Suppressor cells in asthmatic children


Professor C. B. S. Wood, Joint Academic Department of Child Health, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, Hackney Road, London E2 8PS


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from thirteen asthmatic children, and from normal control subjects, were pre-incubated with and without concanavalin A (con A), washed, and cultured with fresh allogenic PBMC from healthy donors. The con A pre-treated cells from fifteen of seventeen normal controls clearly suppressed the blast transformation response to con A by normal allogeneic PBMC. However, con A-generated suppressor activity was found in only seven of the asthmatic patients studied, most of whom could be classified as ‘short-term’ asthmatics. It is thus possible that either dysfunction or a reduction of the (con A)-inducible, T-suppressor cell subpopulation in peripheral blood is frequent among ‘long-term’ asthmatic patients. This may suggest that a different pathogenesis may be operating in early-onset, long-continued asthma, when compared with those investigated early in the course of asthma which has begun later in childhood.