We studied the cellular immune responses to ocular anterior chamber (AC) priming of mice. A/J mice primed subcutaneously with azobenzenearsonate-coupled spleen cells (ABA-SC) manifested delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) in the form of footpad swelling when challenged 5 days later with the diazonium salt of ABA. Mice inoculated with ABA-SC in the anterior chamber at the time of subcutaneous priming, however, were tolerant to ABA. Subconjunctival inoculation with ABA-SC did not tolerize; rather it primed for DTH. Antibodies against ABA were not detectable in significant amounts in mice made tolerant by AC inoculation. The AC-induced tolerance was shown to result from hapten-specific T cell-mediated suppression. Suppressor T cells (Ts) arising from AC priming suppressed the efferent limb of the immune response and did not bear detectable cross-reactive idiotype (CRI) surface receptors. In these phenotypic and functional respects, AC-induced Ts differed from first-order Ts (Ts1) that result from i.v. priming. The results are discussed with respect to immune privilege and the anterior chamber of the eye.

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