Conflicting reports on the immune responsiveness of patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) have been reported. This report shows that the leucocytes from four SSPE patients exhibited strong sensitivity to both measles and SSPE virus preparations as measured by the macrophage migration inhibition test, mixed lymphocyte virus infected cell culture test, and the lymphotoxin assay. Earlier suggestions that a factor may be operating to suppress cellular reactivity are confirmed by the demonstration that the response of lymphocytes from SSPE patients could be blocked by the addition of SSPE spinal fluid or plasma. It was determined that the blocking factor was stable at –20°C, heat labile at 56°C for 30 minutes, trypsin and neuraminadase sensitive, and had a mol wt greater than 150,000 as determined by Sephadex G-200 gel chromatography. The blocking factor appeared to be specific for SSPE virus and did not block the response of lymphocytes to nonspecific mitogenic agents and other viral and bacterial agents.

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