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Heterogeneity of suppressors of mitogen responsiveness in human malignancy

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Blood lymphocytes from cancer patients frequently showed reduced responsiveness to mitogens compared with those from healthy individuals. This impairment did not appear to be attributable to an intrinsic T cell deficit but to the involvement of suppressor cells. The role of monocytes as suppressors in cancer patients was supported by experiments in which they were depleted by removal of adherent cells or selectively eliminated in situ by treatment with macrophage toxic agents (carrageenan, silica). Phytomitogen responses were consistently elevated by these manoeuvres. Indomethacin elevated responses in unseparated but not adherent cell depleted populations, indicating an important role for prostaglandins in this phenomenon. None of these procedures markedly influenced the response of lymphocytes from healthy individuals.

Following removal of adherents, response could be generated or increased in SRBC rosetting or non-rosetting fractions depending upon the initial responsiveness of the adherent depleted populations, an observation consistent with the coexistence of responder and suppressor populations. Tumour-draining lymph node cells differed from peripheral blood insofar as no evidence of monocyte-like suppressors was found, but SRBC rosetting cells depressed the mitogen stimulation of autologous blood lymphocytes.

These data establish that suppressor cells are operative in the depression of T cell responses to mitogens and indicate that several cell types are involved.

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Correspondence to B. M. Vose.

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Vose, B.M., Moore, M. Heterogeneity of suppressors of mitogen responsiveness in human malignancy. Cancer Immunol Immunother 9, 163–171 (1980).

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  • Cancer Patient
  • Prostaglandin
  • Healthy Individual
  • Indomethacin
  • Cell Response