Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Different rules govern help for cytotoxic T cells and B cells


RECENT experiments with radiation chimaeras1,2 indicate that T cells differentiating in an H–2D compatible, but H–2I different, thymic environment are completely unresponsive to vaccinia virus. The explanation favoured2 for this surprising finding is that participation of helper T cells3 (TH) is an absolute requirement for the generation of virus-immune cytotoxic T cells (Tc). No response is seen because the TH populations are ‘locked in’ to recognising the spectrum of H–2I antigens presented on radiation-resistant thymic cells2. They cannot, therefore, interact with the Tc precursors which are genetically different in the I region. The result is a total failure of responsiveness. We report here that we have tested this concept further by stimulating acutely tolerised4,5 T-cell populations in H–2I different, but H–2D compatible virus-infected recipients. Our results indicate that there is apparently no need for participation of TH populations restricted to the H–2I region specificities expressed in the recipient environment. This differs from the situation for TH–B-cell collaboration4,5, and suggests that help for the Tc response operates directly between T-cell subsets.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Zinkernagel, R. M. et al. J. exp. Med. 147, 882–896 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Zinkernagel, R. M. et al. J. exp. Med. 147, 897–911 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Cantor, H. & Boyse, E. A. J. exp. Med. 141, 1390–1399 (1975).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Sprent, J. & von Boehmer, H. J. exp. Med. 144, 617–626 (1976).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Sprent, J. Immun. Rev. (in the press).

  6. Bennink, J. & Doherty, P. C. J. exp. Med. 148, 128–135 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Katz, D. H. & Benacerraf, B. Adv. Immun. 15, 1–94 (1972).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Doherty, P. C., Biddison, W. E., Bennink, J. & Knowles, B. B. J. exp. Med. 148, 534–543 (1978).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Doherty, P. C. & Bennink, J. R. J. exp. Med. (in the press).

  10. Ward, K., Cantor, H. & Boyse, E. A. in The Immune System: Genetics and Regulation (eds. Sercarz, E., Herzenberg, L. A. & Fox, C. R), 397 (Academic, New York, 1977).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Langman, R. E. Nature 274, 12–13 (1978).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

BENNINK, J., DOHERTY, P. Different rules govern help for cytotoxic T cells and B cells. Nature 276, 829–831 (1978).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing