Treatment of mice in vivo with monoclonal antibodies against the L3T4 antigen (CD4 in human beings) has been shown to suppress the humoral response to several foreign antigens and to prolong the survival of allografts in some cases. Experiments were therefore performed to test whether anti-L3T4 antibody treatment would suppress alloantibody production after skin transplantation. Monoclonal anti-L3T4 antibody (GK1.5) was administered to C57BL/6 (B6) mice prior to BALB/c skin grafting. The production of B6 anti-BALB/c alloantibody was then tested after graft rejection. The results showed that: (1) graft survival of BALB/c skin on B6 mice was not substantially prolonged by anti-L3T4 treatment; (2) graft survival was significantly prolonged if mice were treated with both anti-L3T4 and anti-Lyt2 antibody; (3) the production of alloantibody following grafting was decreased by anti-L3T4 treatment and was completely eliminated if thymectomy was also performed; (4) thymectomy prolonged the effectiveness of the anti-L3T4 treatment; (5) tolerance to alloantigens presented at the time of anti-L3T4 treatment was not achieved; and (6) well-established cytotoxic antibody titers rose to higher levels after secondary grafting event with concurrent anti-L3T4 treatment, while weak antibody titers remained stable or decreased. These results indicate that L3T4+ cells are essential in providing the 'help' necessary for generating humoral responses to alloantigens but that elimination of these L3T4+ cells still allows the generation of help for cell-mediated immunity. The data also suggest that class I antigens must be presented on class II molecules in order to elicit an antibody response.
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