We have examined the ability of macrophages (Mphi) to transmit T-cell derived suppressor signals to other T cells. The suppressor signal studied is an antigen-specific factor which suppresses the ability of adoptively transferred, sensitized lymphocytes to express contact hypersensitivity in normal recipients. We have found that this factor binds to peritoneal exudate Mphi via cell surface structures which can be blocked with heat-aggregated gamma globulin. Dead (HK) Mphi bind the factor but fail to present it in a functional way to assay (immune) T cells, whereas live (L) Mphi perform both functions. Further, L Mphi can retrieve the factor in an active form from the surfaces of HK Mphi. Based on these and other findings (1-5), we discuss the possibility that Mphi may play as important a role in presenting T-cell communication signals to the cells of the immune system as they do in presenting antigen.

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