Intradermal injection of purified protein derivative produced typical delayed type hypersensitivity reactions in five healthy human subjects. The major subpopulations of lymphocytes and certain accessory cells were located in frozen sections of biopsies of the lesions with monoclonal antibodies and immunohistochemical staining. The densities (expressed as number/unit area for comparison) of the different types of cells were counted at various microanatomical locations in the tissue. The inflammatory cells were concentrated in narrow zones, initially (24 h) only surrounding small blood vessels but later (48-96 h) also around sweat ducts. Lymphocytes were the predominant cell type at these sites with T4 and T8 cells randomly intermixed at a ratio similar to that in the mononuclear cell fraction of the peripheral blood samples removed at the time of biopsy. There was also a scanty diffuse infiltrate in the intervening dermis, but here the T4:T8 ratio was significantly lower than that in the peripheral blood or perivascular cuffs. There was considerable intersubject variation in the relative preponderance of T8 cells in the diffuse infiltrate. The results suggest that there is no subset selection in the initial emigration of lymphocytes through vascular endothelium in the delayed hypersensitivity reaction, but that the subsets behave differently during the subsequent migration through the tissues. It remains to be determined whether the extent to which T8 cells migrate more rapidly than T4 cells through the tissues may influence the reaction at the site of entry of organisms or antigens into the body by altering the balance of the immunoregulatory lymphocyte subsets. This may underlie some of the differences in susceptibility to infection between subjects and determine the type of granuloma that develops in a particular patient.
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