The results of this study demonstrate that spleen cells taken from mice at the height of the primary immune response to intravenous infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis possess the capacity to transfer adoptive protection to M. tuberculosis-infected recipients, but only if these recipients are first rendered T cell-deficient, either by thymectomy and gamma irradiation, or by sublethal irradiation. A similar requirement was necessary to demonstrate the adoptive protection of the lungs after exposure to an acute aerosol-delivered M. tuberculosis infection. In both infectious models successful adoptive immunotherapy was shown to be mediated by T lymphocytes, which were acquired in the donor animals in response to the immunizing infection. It is proposed that the results of this study may serve as a basic model for the subsequent analysis of the nature of the T cell-mediated immune response to both systemic and aerogenic infections with M. tuberculosis.

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