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GENERATION OF CYTOTOXIC T LYMPHOCYTES IN VITRO

Jean-Charles Cerottini, Howard D. Engers, H. Robson MacDonald, K. Theodor Brunner

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Mouse cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) were generated in mixed leukocyte cultures (MLC) using spleen cells as responding cells and irradiated allogeneic spleen cells as stimulating cells. Cytotoxicity was assessed by a quantitative 51Cr assay system and the relative frequency of CTL in individual cell populations was estimated from dose-response curves. Inclusion of 2-mercaptoethanol in the MLC medium resulted in a 20–40-fold increase in the relative number of CTL generated at the peak of the response. Under these culture conditions, cell-mediated cytotoxic activity was detectable in MLC populations as early as 48 h after the onset of the cultures. When spleen cells from mice immunized with allogeneic tumor cells 2–4 mo previously were cultured with irradiated spleen cells of the same alloantigenic specificity (MLC-Imm), it was found that the cell-mediated cytotoxic response was detectable earlier and reached higher levels than that observed in a primary MLC. At the peak of the response, MLC-Imm populations were observed to lyse up to 50% of the target cells within 3 h at a lymphocyte: target cell ratio of 0.3:1. Immunological and physical characterization of the effector cells generated in MLC-Imm indicated that they were medium to large-sized T lymphocytes. Altogether, these studies suggested the existence of an anamnestic cell-mediated cytotoxic response in MLC-Imm.