Autoimmune diseases appeared frequently in adults in the prostate and stomach of C3.129 mice after thymectomy on day 3 (Tx-3) without any additional treatment. Lesions of both organs could be completely prevented by a single i.p. injection of spleen cells from syngeneic adult mouse on day 4. For prevention of prostatis, the most effective cell source was normal males (4 X 10(6); normal females or Orx-0 males were less effective as the cell source, and higher doses of cells (4 X 10(7)) were needed. In contrast, spleen cells (4 X 10(6)) from these three donors had equivalent capacity for the prevention of gastritis. Similar autoimmune prostatis developed at very high frequency when spleen cells (4 X 10(6)) from normal females or Orx-0 males, but not from normal males, were injected i.p. into C3.129 nu/nu mice at 4 d. However, no sign of prostatis was found in nu/+ recipients. Injection of a larger dose (4 X 10(7)) from the same donors was not effective for induction of prostatis. Gastritis could not be induced in nu/nu mice by this procedure. Injection of spleen cells from Tx-3 males or females was effective for induction of both prostatis and gastritis in nu/nu recipients. It was also shown that a T cell population (Thy-1.2+, Ig-) had the capacity to prevent and to induce autoimmune diseases. These results together strongly suggest a role for active tissue-specific suppressor T cells in self tolerance, and elimination of such T cell populations causes autoimmunity.

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