PROBLEM: We have previously shown that supernatants from short-term cultures of human placental explants (HPS) are immunosuppressive in vitro as well as in vivo. They contain a low M.W. factor endowed with immunoregulatories activities (Filtrate of such with a 5 kDa cut off). In this paper, we wanted to assess whether this low M.W. material accounts for most, if not all, of the immunosuppressive properties of crude HPS and begin to investigate its mode of action.
RESULTS: The filtrate is active across species barrier and inhibits human and murine PHA driven lymphocyte proliferation, Mixed Lymphocyte Reaction, and Natural Killer activity as did crude HPS. It does not affect CTL lytic function at effector stage. Its cross species activity allowed us to study its effects in vivo. It corrects resorbtions in the CBA x DBA/2 murine spontaneous abortion model, and suppresses local and general GVH reactions in a model (A cells into irradiated A x B F1s) relevant to a clinical use, e.g., bone marrow transplantation.
To ensure that such survival of the recipients was due to donor cells in the latter, surviving experimental animals were analysed by FACS for repopulating lymphocytes phenotype, which was indeed of donor origin.
To elucidate the mechanism(s) of action of the active HPS moiety, we first tested various malignant cell lines for the minimal incubation time required for maximal lymphocyte inhibition. In the same vein, we verified that lymphocytes stimulated by PHA and simultaneously treated with filtrate were unresponsive to a second PHA challenge. The effects of the material was reversible if cells were washed out of it early enough before otherwise entering a cycle leading ultimately to cell death in vitro. Finally, we tested several second messenger pathways, none of which were modified.
CONCLUSION: These data suggest that the filtrate contains an entity that represents the main, if not all, the immunosuppressive molecules present in HPS. In addition, they suggest that the material acts only on activated T cells and requires to be present early in the replication activation cycle.
Altogether, the in vitro data strongly suggest that the material is acting by inducing clonal deletion in activated (T) cells.