We have shown previously that CD8+ T cells proliferate upon exposure to autologous, antigen primed CD4+ T cells, and suppress the response of fresh T cells to the priming antigen but not irrelevant antigens. The stimulus and target of suppression in this system appears to be the antigen receptor on the surface of CD4+ cells, rather than the nominal antigen. In the current study, alloantigen primed CD4+ inducer cells and IL-2-containing medium were used to generate clones of suppressor cells from several individuals. The clones inhibited the response of fresh autologous T cells only to the original allogeneic stimulator cell and to stimulator cells that shared HLA-DR antigens with the priming cell. The clones were also genetically restricted, since they inhibited the response of HLA-A,B-compatible but not HLA-A,B-incompatible individuals. The availability of a method for reproducibly generating antigen receptor-specific suppressor T cell clones in vitro should make it possible to clarify the mechanism, whereby such cells are activated and exert their suppressive effect.

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