BN rats develop interstitial nephritis after immunization with rabbit, but not rat renal tubular antigen. Using RT1n rat strains that differentially express tubular antigen, we investigated the unresponsiveness of BN rats to BN tubular antigen (BN-TBM) using delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses to BN-TBM as a measure of cell-mediated immunity. Our results indicate that rat strains expressing tubular antigen respond to immunization with BN-TBM with the clonal expansion of antigen-specific, cyclophosphamide-sensitive, OX8+, MHC-restricted suppressor T cells. Such suppression appears to be relevant to the maintenance of tolerance to parenchymal self, since chronic cyclophosphamide therapy abrogates suppression and results in significant interstitial nephritis.

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