Culture of spleen cells with dextran sulfate (DxS) and antigen at various different cell densities revealed a T-cell-dependent regulatory pathway not observed in conventional culture. This finding can be explained by the frequent presence in the cultures of a helper cell and the less frequent presence of a suppressor cell, both activated by antigen and DxS. The classic, radioresistant, antigen-specific, helper T cell was not regulated by this newly revealed pathway. The highly frequent, DxS-dependent helper T cell is Lyt-1+2-. The suppressive effect is mediated by a Lyt-1+2+ population consisting of helpers and latent suppressors that can be made active by DxS or Lyt-1+ cells. The specificity of the Lyt-1+ helper cells was not established, but the high frequency observed implies a nonspecific mechanism. The specificity of the suppressor effect was not determined by these experiments. This regulatory mechanism is similar to the phenomena exhibited by polyclonally activated T-cell populations.
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