Evidence is presented that T cells that produce lethal graft-vs.-host disease (GVHD) to minor histocompatibility antigens (minor HA) comprise discrete subgroups of H-2K- and H-2D-restricted T cells; double negative selection of T cells in irradiated H-2 recombinant mice was used to separate these two subgroups. No evidence could be found that I-restricted T cells contributed to GVHD, either as effector cells or helper cells. The (unprimed) precursor cells for GVHD expressed the Thy-1+, Lyt-1+/-2, Ia- phenotype. Studies in which H-2-semiallogeneic bone marrow chimeras were used as hosts for negative selection suggested that presentation of minor HA to T cells during the induction phase is controlled by marrow-derived cells; indirect evidence was obtained that these latter cells can "process" minor HA presented on H-2 different cells and thereby render the antigens immunogenic. Studies in which minor HA-different, H-2-compatible chimeras were re-irradiated and then injected with donor-vs.-host T cells suggested that the effector phase of lethal GVHD involves contact of antigen on non-marrow-derived cells.

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