Unprimed lymphocytes were sensitized in vitro by incubating them with syngeneic macrophages that had been fed with viral or cellular antigens. The sensitized lymphocytes were tested for their cytotoxic activity against virus-infected and noninfected fibroblasts. The antigenic preparations used for priming the macrophages were either tumor cell-free extracts or supernatants from virus productive cells. Cell-free extracts from the productive RadLV-induced lymphoma cells or the nonproductive radiation-induced lymphoma cells were immunogenic when presented to lymphocytes by macrophages. In contrast, cell-free extracts from normal thymocytes were much less immunogenic, suggesting that the presence of viral associated antigens (VAA) can selectively be detected on lymphoma cells by this assay. Fibroblastic cell lines but not primary fibroblasts were also susceptible to the cytotoxic lymphocytes induced by RadLV-fed macrophages. Primary fibroblasts became susceptible to the sensitized lymphocytes either after infection with the corresponding virus, or if not infected, after several passages in vitro, suggesting that neo-antigens cross-reacting with viral antigens appear during sub-culturing of fibroblasts in vitro. This system makes it possible to detect VAA either as immunogens when presented to lymphocytes by macrophages, or as targets for cytotoxic lymphocytes.

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