Culture supernatants of spleen cells from susceptible CBA mice chronically infected with Trypanosoma cruzi were able to inhibit the induction of delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to a wide range of antigens as measured by 24-hr footpad swelling, bone marrow homing, and radioactivity accumulation assays. The suppressive activity, which was also present in the serum of these chronically infected mice, appears to be specific for the induction of DTH and had no effect on the 3-hr immediate-type hypersensitivity. It also failed to modify the expression of DTH in presensitized mice. Furthermore, it did not affect the synthesis in normal recipients of specific antibody or the induction of helper T cells or cytotoxic T cells. It also failed to induce DTH tolerance as recipient mice with markedly reduced DTH were able to develop a normal DTH response after secondary immunization. The suppressive activity was produced by an Ig- macrophage-depleted splenic T cell population, whose capacity to secrete the suppressive substance was completely abrogated by treatment in vitro with anti-L3T4 antibody and complement, but not with anti-Lyt-2 antibody and complement. These results therefore demonstrate that L3T4+ T cells from mice chronically infected with T. cruzi can produce substances which interfere with the induction of DTH. This finding may help to identify the differential antigenic stimulatory requirement for the activation of the various subsets of T cells.

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