The effects of culturing in vivo- or in vitro-activated helper cells on antigen-pulsed splenic adherent cells were studied. In vivo T cells educated to the synthetic polypeptide (T,G)-A-L were obtained by the transfer of thymocytes into lethally irradiated mice. When the activation process was suboptimal, resulting in a low helper function of the cell preparation, incubation of the educated cells on (T,G)-A-L-pulsed splenic adherent cells for 24 hr potentiated their activity, and efficient helper cells were obtained. This process was found to be antigen specific, it did not involve de novo education of naive cells or selection of specific T lymphocytes, but rather completion of the education procedure, which had already started in vivo. It seems that a physical contact between the educated T cells and the antigen-presenting cells is essential for inducing the enhanced helper effect. It is also apparent that during this 24-hr culture on antigen-pulsed macrophages T cells did not proliferate, but rather differentiated into immunocompetent helper cells. On the contrary, when the initial education step was efficient the subsequent culture of the activated T cells on antigen-pulsed splenic adherent cells resulted in a marked decay in the helper function of the cells, while control monolayers were inert. Thus, macrophage-bound antigen differentially modulates the helper function of educated T cells, a procedure which is probably dependent on the degree of maturation or differentiation of the T lymphocyte.
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