Mice immunized with glutaraldehyde-fixed sheep red blood cells (G-SRBC) show delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactions to G-SRBC or SRBC. The specificity of the DTH reaction of mice sensitized with glutaraldehyde-fixed antigens is similar to that found after sensitization with unfixed antigens. The dose-response curve for sensitization by glutaraldehyde-fixed SRBC was very different from the curve for normal SRBC. At low doses, both antigens were effective in sensitizing to show DTH but neither induced an antibody response. However, at high antigen doses, only the glutaraldehyde-fixed antigen was efficient in sensitizing to show DTH and it failed to raise an antibody titer. Spleen cells of mice sensitized with fixed RBC can transfer DTH locally but if the donor cells are irradiated (500 R), the transfer is abrogated. In contrast, the transfer of DTH by spleen cells of mice immunized with unfixed antigen is not affected by 500 R. The transfer of DTH by spleen cells of mice immunized with fixed antigen can be blocked by "in vitro desensitization" while the transfer of DTH by spleen cells from mice primed with normal antigen is resistant to "in vitro desensitization." These results suggest that immunization of mice with different physical states of the same antigen can result in the activation of antigen-specific T cells which exhibit markedly different properties.
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