The interaction in vivo between hapten-specific suppressor T cells (Ts) and a hapten-specific T helper (Th) cell line was examined. Antigen-specific Ts were induced in CBA mice by i.v. priming with 3 X 10(7) syngeneic spleen cells (SC) that were chemically coupled with the hapten azobenzenearsonate (ABA). Transfer of splenic T cells from these mice by i.v. injection suppressed the induction in syngeneic assay hosts of ABA-reactive helper and cytotoxic T cell (Tc) responses. Although the Th responses and their suppression were ABA specific, in that they were not induced or activated by trinitrophenyl (TNP)-coupled SC, both Tc responses and their suppression were occasionally nonspecific. Induction of Th was assayed by measuring the release from primed lymph node cells of IL 2 and IL 3 in response to haptenated SC in vitro. Both cytotoxic and Th responses could be made dependent on the provision of exogenous Th by reducing the antigen dose. This stratagem allowed the assay in vivo of a long-term cultured ABA-specific Th cell line (E9). Injection of 10(5) E9 cells/mouse (with antigen, in the rear footpad) helped the induction of both Tc and Th in response to a reduced dose of antigen. These responses, which were dependent on the E9 cell line, were also suppressed by i.v. transferred Ts. When normal doses of antigen were used, the injection of 10(5) E9 Th overcame suppression. These results show that Ts act by inhibiting the activation of Th, thereby suppressing Th-dependent responses generally. The fact that the E9 Th cell line could be suppressed also shows that long-term culture of T cells does not affect their capacity to be regulated in vivo.

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