Exposure to bacterial superantigens leads to the induction of a subsequent state of immune hyporesponsiveness. Using a transwell coculture system, a previous report demonstrated that splenocytes from staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB)-injected BALB/c mice secreted soluble mediators to suppress the proliferative response of naive syngeneic splenocytes to SEB stimulation. We show in the present study that, in contrast to the suppressive effect induced by SEB in BALB/c (H-2d haplotype), MRL+/+, and MRL-lpr/lpr (H-2k) mice, SEB-primed splenocytes from I-E- strains such as B6, B10, A.BY (H-2b), and A.SW (H-2s) mice failed to inhibit the CD25 expression and the proliferative activity of their syngeneic naive responder splenocytes. Further results revealed that the SEB-primed cells from BALB/c, but not B6, mice inhibited the CD25 expression and proliferation of naive responder cells from either BALB/c or B6 mice, indicating the critical regulatory role of the effector cells. Unlike SEB, staphylococcal enterotoxin A induced profound suppression in both BALB/c and B6 mice. Moreover, the suppressive competence of SEB-primed splenocytes was diminished in CD28-deficient BALB/c mice. Taken together, our results indicate that when SEB is used as a stimulator in vivo, both the I-E molecule and CD28 costimulation are required for the induction of regulatory cells bearing suppressive activity.
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