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Abstract

A system of 3H-thymidine incorporation by lymphocytes in culture for 3 wk has been utilized for quantitative assessment of the ability of T lymphocytes to inhibit outgrowth of autologous Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transformed B lymphocytes. Lymphocytes from EBV-seronegative individuals lack the ability to suppress outgrowth of autologous EBV- transformed B lymphocytes. This capability appears during the course of primary EBV-induced infectious mononucleases (IM) as the atypical lymphocytosis is subsiding and persists for years after recovery from primary EBV infection. The ability of T lymphocytes from EBV- seropositive subjects or convalescent IM patients to inhibit B- lymphocyte outgrowth is not HLA restricted. Thus, T lymphocytes capable of inhibition of in vitro EBV-induced B-cell outgrowth emerge during the acute stage of IM and may represent an important control mechanism of EBV-induced B-lymphocyte proliferation in vivo. The system provides a highly sensitive quantitative means for in vitro assessment of cell- mediated immunity to EBV.