Spleen cells from chickens with hereditary muscular dystrophy (MD) give low blastogenic responses to the T cell mitogen concanavalin A (Con A) while exhibiting normal mitogen stimulated blastogenic responses to the T cell mitogen phytohemagglutinin (PHA). The addition of MD spleen cells to normal spleen cells caused a marked suppression of the Con A response of the normal cells while not affecting the PHA response of the normal cells. The suppressive activity by the MD spleen cells requires viable cells and is contact mediated. The suppressive activity is attributed to the presence in MD spleens of a population of suppressor cells with characteristics typical of macrophages. The suppressor cell activity was not removable by complement-mediated lysis using anti-T or anti-B sera, but it was reversible by treatment with carrageenan or carbonyl iron magnet, by passage through a Sephadex G-10 column, and by adherence to plastic petri dishes or glass beads. MD spleen cells depleted of the suppressor cell population remained unable to respond to Con A.

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