Alloantigen-specific suppressor T cells are activated from normal murine spleen cells in mixed lymphocyte reactions (MLR). These T cells are radioresistant and suppress the activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in second primary MLR cultures. This report demonstrates that cyclosporin A (CsA) blocks the activation of these suppressor cells at a dose of 1 microgram/ml. However, reconstitution of CsA blocked cultures with IL 2 restores the activation of the suppressor T cells, but fails to significantly restore the activation of CTL in these same cultures. This differential activation requirement was used to establish T cell lines that demonstrate enriched suppressor cell activity but depletion of CTL activity. These findings are discussed in terms of the mechanism of action of CsA in these distinct T cell subsets and the relevance to models of allograft unresponsiveness.

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