Two roles for CD4 cells in the control of the generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes

D. Cassell, J. Forman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The generation of CTL against Qa-1 Ag in C57BL/6 (B6) (Qa-1b) and B6.Tlaa (Qa-1a) congenic strains requires in vivo priming with the Qa-1 alloantigen together with a helper Ag, such as H-Y. The primed precursors obtained from these female mice generate Qa-1-specific CTL activity upon culture in vitro. Although the presence of the H-Y helper Ag is not required for the in vitro sensitization, no response occurs in the absence of CD4 cells. Addition of unprimed B6.Tlaa CD4 cells from Qa-1 incompatible radiation bone marrow chimeras (B6.Tlaa→B6), that are presumably tolerant to Qa-1b, provide helper activity for Qa-1b-specific CTL. This indicates that although CD4 cells are obligatory for the Qa-1 response, they need not be specific for alloantigens on the APC to generate helper activity in in vitro cultures. Addition of unirradiated B6 CD8-depleted spleen cells to CD4-depleted B6.Tlaa anti-B6 cultures in the presence of either B6.Tlaa CD4 cells or rIL-2 prevents the generation of Qa-1 specific CTL. This inhibition is not due to an anti-idiotypic Ts cell since B6.Tlaa→B6 chimeric cells do not suppress an anti-Qa-1b response. Rather, this finding is consistent with that of a veto cell mechanism. To determine whether CD4 cells themselves exhibit veto activity, highly purified CD4 populations were tested for their ability to inhibit the generation of Qa-1-specific CTL. CD4 cells precultured for 2 to 3 days with Con A and rIL-2 specifically inhibit CTL activity whereas resting cells do not, similar to that noted for CD8 veto cells. The relative efficiency of activated CD4 cells is greater than that of resting NK cells but is less than that of activated CD8 or NK cells. Thus, CD4 cells not only provide helper activity for CTL precursors, but also act as veto cells to prevent the generation of CTL activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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