Suppressor cell function was evaluated in children affected by HBsAg-positive chronic active hepatitis. Circulating concanavalin A- (ConA) precultured lymphocytes failed to suppress the proliferative response of autologous responder cells to a mitogen. In four of eight patients with a failure of ConA-induced suppressor activity, indomethacin added during the induction phase of T suppressor cells abolished the defect, indicating that prostaglandin-producing adherent cells may influence ConA-induced suppressor activity. An inverse relationship between suppressor cell activity and the number of suppressor/cytotoxic subsets defined by the OK T8 monoclonal antibody was found. Our findings strongly support the hypothesis that an abnormality in the immunoregulatory system plays a role in the pathogenesis of HBsAg-related chronic active hepatitis. It is also suggested that non-T regulatory cells are implicated in the immunological abnormality in chronic active hepatitis.
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