Amplifier T cell activity can be transferred by spleen cells harvested 72 hr after priming with type III pneumococcal polysaccharide (SSS-III) and can be abolished by treating the transferred cells with monoclonal anti-Lyt-1, or anti-Thy-1 antibodies in the presence of complement; thus, amplifier cells represent a distinct subpopulation of T cells. Amplifier T cells were found to be sensitive to irradiation but not to treatment with cyclophosphamide. When amplifier cells were transferred to athymic nude (nu/nu) mice, the enhancement obtained was much greater than that produced in thymus-bearing (nu/+) mice; this is presumably due to the lack of suppressor T cell activity in nu/nu mice that enables amplifier T cell activity to be expressed more fully. Amplifier T cells also were found to be present in peripheral blood; these amplifier T cells were Lyt-2- in phenotype. Although the induction and activation of amplifier T cells appear to be antigen-specific, the product made by amplifier T cells may not be antigen specific in its mode of action. Because amplifier T cells can be induced and activated by exposure to immune B cells, specificity is presumably due in whole or in part to the ability of amplifier T cells to recognize the idiotypic determinants of B cell-associated antibody specific for SSS-III.

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