Purified peripheral blood T lymphocytes from normal donors were shown to help allogeneic tonsillar B cells to differentiate and secrete specific anti-SRBC antibody in vitro in a plaque-forming assay. Utilizing this system, a comparison was made between the allogeneic helper activity generated by the T cells of normal individuals and patients with various disease states. Allogeneic helper activity was absent when T lymphocytes from patients with CLL were used. Conversely, relatively normal allogeneic helper function was provided by T cells of patients with a variety of other disorders studied. Thus, a functional deficiency was identified in CLL patients in the subpopulation of regulatory T cells responsible for providing helper activity in allogeneic interactions.
This study was supported by United States Public Health Service Grants RR-102 and AI-10811.