A mouse model of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) and tolerance to protein antigens horse gamma globulin (HoGG) and cytochrome (Cyt C) was investigated. A reliable CMI response as measured in vivo by ear swelling or by an in vitro T-cell proliferation assay could be induced by one of two methods: (a) sensitization by antigen-complete Freund's adjuvant in the base of the tail, or (b) sensitization by s.c. injection of antigen coupled to syngeneic lymphoid cells. The in vivo response exhibited characteristic CMI parameters, delayed kinetics, and transfer by viable T cells. Prior i.v. injection of HoGG-modified lymphoid cells (HoGG-LC) or Cyt C-LC before sensitization resulted in a rapidly induced, dose-dependent, antigen-specific suppression of both in vivo and in vitro manifestations of the CMI response. In addition, tolerance in this system was transferrable by an antigen-specific suppressor T cell (Ts). The Ts were found to diminish the in vivo ear swelling reaction in recipient animals, but had no effect on the in vitro T-cell proliferative response of the recipients. In contrast to the rapid development of tolerance in donor mice (phenotypic tolerance), transferrable Ts were first demonstrable 4--7 d posttolerization. This latter result indicates that at least two mechanisms of tolerance are operative in this system: the rapid induction of clone inhibition of reactive T cells and the slower induction of Ts. These results indicate again that the mode of antigen presentation is crucial in determining the immunologic outcome. In these experiments, cell-bound proteins injected subcutaneously led to delayed hypersensitivity while the same antigens injected intravenously led to tolerance. These results are considered in the light of recent experiments which show that T cells recognize antigens on cells in association with major histocompatibility complex products. We believe the following pathways are involved. In sensitization via subcutaneous injection of HoGG-LC, antigen reaches the lymph node via lymphatic pathways which lead to immunogenic macrophage-associated presentation and the activation of delayed hypersensitivity T cells (TDH). In tolerization via intravenous injection of HoGG-LC, antigen (a) reaches the lymph node via the blood, probably directly meeting the TDH, preventing its subsequent activation by immunogenic HoGG (clone inhibition) and (b) reaches the spleen, also via the blood, activating suppressor T cells.

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