We studied the effect of a single intragastric administration of ovalbumin (OVA) on the subsequent development of OVA-specific cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses in BDF1 mice. In animals fed OVA 7 days before subcutaneous sensitization with OVA-CFA, we observed a concomitant dose-dependent decrease in both the humoral and CMI responses specific for OVA. The CMI tolerance was found to be antigen-specific when assayed in vivo by ear swelling or in vitro by an antigen-induced T cell proliferation assay because OVA-fed mice responded normally to sensitization with horse γ-globulin. It was also shown that either spleen or lymph node cells, but not serum, from OVA-fed donors transferred suppression to normal recipients. The transfer was mediated by antigen-specific suppressor T cells (Ts) that appeared to inhibit the induction phase (afferent limb) of the CMI response, since the Ts were only effective when transferred before or shortly after the onset of sensitization.

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This work was supported in part by United States Public Health Service Grants AI-12685 and AI-13474.

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