Chronic relapsing experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (CR-EAE) can be adoptively transferred using myelin basic protein (BP)-specific helper T cell lines, and suppressor cells may be important in recovery from EAE. In order to generate suppressor cells, spleen cells obtained from BP-complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) inoculated SJL/J mice and from normal mice were cultured for 7 days with medium, with cyclosporin A (CsA), or with CsA and antigen (BP or purified protein derivative of mycobacterium (PPD)). Cultured spleen cells were assayed for suppressor activity in vitro by coculture with BP-specific and PPD-specific helper T cell lines derived from SJL/J mice. Immunized donor spleen cells cultured with cyclosporin A (CsA) and BP were potent inhibitors of T cell line proliferation, and suppressor activity was increased 17-fold compared with control splenocytes. The number of suppressor cells required to suppress PPD-specific line proliferation by 50% (I50) was significantly higher than the number required to suppress BP-specific line proliferation, suggesting an antigen-specific component to the suppression. The major effector cell required for suppression was a large granular Mac-1 + cell with the functional characteristics of a macrophage. Suppressor activity persisted after depletion of Thy 1.2+ cells, but suppression was no longer antigen-specific, suggesting that culture of spleen cells with CsA and BP may generate suppressor macrophages which are antigen-nonspecific and Thy 1.2+ suppressor cells which are antigen-specific. These suppressor cells may be important in the regulation of CR-EAE and the techniques described for their generation may prove useful for treatment and prevention of disease.
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