In cultures of sheep erythrocyte- (SRBC) stimulated spleen cells from mice immunized with tetanus toxoid (TT) and horse erythrocytes (HRBC) 30 to 90 days earlier, the addition of both HRBC (day 0) and TT (day 2) resulted in significant suppression of the anti-SRBC plaque-forming cell (PFC) response compared to the response of similar cultures maintained without the priming antigens. The observed inhibition was due to the presence of a soluble factor that was released into the supernatant fluid of the specifically stimulated, primed population of lymphoid cells between 72 and 120 hr after culture initiation. The active mediator, a macromolecule of ∼∼24,000 daltons as determined by gel filtration over Sephadex G-150 and Ultrogel AcA 44, was suppressive when added within 24 hr, but not 48 hr, of assay for PFC against the reference SRBC antigen. The transiently acting soluble suppressor (TASS) was not overtly cytotoxic since total cell recovery and viability were unaffected in its presence. The results presented here are discussed in relation to a possible mechanism of action in which the negative regulation of immunoglobulin production is favored once a minimum level of immune reactivity is reached.

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This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant AI-12752.

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