To investigate the mechanism underlying neonatal T cell tolerance, we used synthetic peptides to induce tolerance. We found that induction of tolerance to one determinant on a 23-amino acid peptide did not affect the response to an adjacent determinant on the same peptide. There was no evidence of suppression of the response to the second determinant. Furthermore, even small peptides near the minimal size for a determinant, which would be very unlikely to possess a suppressor T cell-inducing determinant as well as a proliferative T cell-inducing determinant, could induce tolerance. These studies provide in vivo experiments supporting clonal inactivation as the mechanism of neonatal tolerance to immunogenic peptides.

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