We have previously reported that BALB/c mice immunized with 10 micrograms of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa polysaccharide antigen (PS) and 100 micrograms vinblastine sulfate develop T cell-mediated protective immunity, but fail to generate an antibody response. Vinblastine functions in this system to remove a suppressor cell that normally inhibits expression of this form of immunity after PS immunization. T cells from CB.20 mice immunized with the 10 micrograms of PS and 100 micrograms vinblastine fail to kill P. aeruginosa in vitro. These mice are allotype congenic with BALB/c mice, differing at loci closely linked to the IgH-1 locus. Immunization of CB.20 mice with 10 micrograms PS and 100 micrograms vinblastine results in the appearance of T cells which suppress in vitro bactericidal activity of BALB/c T cells. In the current study we found that T cell-mediated bactericidal activity can be generated in CB.20 mice by increasing the dose of vinblastine given at the time of PS immunization. The phenotype of the CB.20 bactericidal T cell generated by high dose vinblastine is identical to that of the BALB/c bactericidal T cell, and the CB.20 bactericidal T cell can adoptively transfer protective immunity to granulocytopenic mice. After immunization of BALB/c and CB.20 mice with PS alone, approximately one log fewer CB.20 T cells than BALB/c T cells are required to suppress bacterial killing in vitro. Furthermore, the number of CB.20 T cells required to suppress in vitro bacterial killing is directly correlated with the dose of vinblastine administered at the time of immunization. Increasing the immunizing dose of PS overcomes suppressor activity and allows the generation of bactericidal T cells in BALB/c mice without a requirement for vinblastine. CB.20 mice fail to generate bactericidal T cells after immunization with high doses of PS. These results indicate that CB.20 and BALB/c mice both possess the full repertoire of T cells required to express bactericidal T cell activity and that the differences in their responses reflect only quantitative differences in suppressor cell activity.

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