Outbred rabbits were immunized intravenously with 109 sheep erythrocytes (SRBC) and/or horse erythrocytes (HRBC) and sacrificed 1 to 60 days later. At the height of the immune response (Day 7 postimmunization), antibody-forming cells identified by their ability to form hemolytic plaques in the plaque-forming cell (PFC) assay were detected only in the spleen. The splenic PFCs were totally inhibited if they were first incubated with the autologous thymus cells (immune thymus suppressor cells or ITSCs) for 4 hr prior to assaying for PFCs. Incubation of the spleen mononuclear cells with cells of any of the other lymphoid organs of the immunized rabbit for up to 6 hr did not inhibit the PFCs to any significant degree. There is no MHC restriction in the suppressor activity of the ITSCs since they could totally suppress the PFCs of autologous and allogeneic 7-day immune spleen cells. Neither thymus cells nor cells of any of the other lymphoid organs of the unimmunized rabbit could inhibit allogeneic 7-day immune splenic PFCs. The ITSCs from rabbits immunized with SRBC could be isolated by rosetting with the immunizing antigen, SRBC, but not with the non-cross-reacting antigens HRBC, human erythrocytes (HuRBC), and rabbit erythrocytes (RRBC), and vice versa, thus demonstrating the antigenic specificity of the suppressor cells. The thymus cells, but not the cells of any of the other lymphoid organs of the SRBC-immunized rabbit, secreted a factor referred to as immune thymus suppressor factor (ITSF) during incubation for 4 hr at 37°C which could, by itself, totally suppress the splenic PFC. ITSF could be absorbed out of solution by incubation with the immunizing antigen, SRBC, but not with the non-cross-reacting antigens HRBC, HuRBC, and RRBC. Similarly, the ITSF secreted by the thymus cells of the HRBC-immunized rabbit could be absorbed out of solution by incubation with the immunizing antigen, HRBC, but not with the SRBC, HuRBC, and RRBC. ITSF is therefore antigen specific as is its parent ITSC. The cells of the lymphoid organs of unimmunized rabbits did not secrete a suppressor factor during incubation in vitro. ITSCs capable of totally inhibiting the PFCs were detected in the immunized rabbits by Day 5 post-primary-immunization; the ITSCs were capable of secreting ITSF which could totally inhibit the PFCs by Day 7 post-primary-immunization. Although the ITSCs were detected in a suppressive state up to Day 40 post-primary-immunization, they lost their capacity to secrete ITSF by Day 21 post-primary-immunization. ITSCs could no longer be detected in the thymus or any other lymphoid organ by Day 60 post-primary-immunization. The ITSCs are T cells with receptors for the Fc of IgG since they rosette with EA(G) and not with EAC and are lysed following short-term incubation with horse anti-rabbit T-cell antiserum and complement but not with horse anti-rabbit B-cell antiserum and complement. Since the splenic MNCs assayed 7 days post-iv-primary-immunization are actively syntehsizing and secreting antibodies as confirmed by the large number of PFCs, it may be concluded that the antigen-specific ITSCs and ITSF are capable of inhibiting the PFCs by inhibiting the secretion of antibodies from the antibody-synthesizing cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine