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Pitfalls in the use of the lung colony assay to assess T-cell function in irradiated mice


Mice depleted of T lymphocytes by thymectomy, whole-body irradiation and bone-marrow reconstitution showed a marked increase in susceptibility to the development of lung colonies after i.v. injection of cells of an immunogenic fibrosarcoma. However, a similar increase was observed in unthymectomized, irradiated and reconstituted mice that had recovered their T-cell function, as evidenced by rejection of allogeneic skin grafts. In both thymectomized and unthymectomized mice subjected to whole-body irradiation, the lung-colony-forming efficiency was high 1 day after irradiation, declined to a minimum at 7 days, and thereafter increased again, unless the animals were held in a pathogen-free environment. Reconstitution of T-cell-depleted mice with thymocytes and/or a thymic lobe graft tended to increase further, rather than reduce, lung-colony-forming efficiency. Induction of profound lymphopenia, by irradiation of the whole body except the thorax, did not significantly increase lung colony yields. These studies show that the lung colony assay is not a reliable method of assessing T-cell function in irradiated mice.

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Peters, L., Mason, K. & McBride, W. Pitfalls in the use of the lung colony assay to assess T-cell function in irradiated mice. Br J Cancer 36, 386–390 (1977).

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