Studies have been performed on in vitro infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) of subpopulations of human lymphocytes. B cells of adult peripheral or fetal cord blood transform with equal efficiency, whether assayed by DNA synthesis induction or by outgrowth of transformed lymphocytes. In contrast, unfractionated adult lymphocytes transform much less efficiently than those from fetal cord. Reconstitution experiments of different cell preparations indicated that this difference was due to a suppression of B-cell proliferation by adult Ig-negative lymphocytes which fetal Ig-negative lymphocytes were unable to perform. Separation of Ig-negative lymphocytes into various subpopulations revealed that the suppression was performed by T cells. Macrophages and null cells play little or no role in suppression. The relevance of this phenomenon to infection and recovery from EBV infection during and after infectious mononucleosis is discussed.

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