The cutaneous graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) lesions induced by intradermal injection of cloned autoreactive T cells have been shown to subside rapidly and the epidermis returns to normal 2 wk after injection. Those mice that had spontaneously recovered from the cutaneous GVHD became resistant to subsequent attempts to induce the cutaneous GVHD by the T cells while maintaining their activity to mount delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses and to induce the enlargement of the popliteal lymph nodes (PLN). The resistance appeared to be restricted to the epidermal structures of the injection sites, suggesting the involvement of locally acting suppression mechanisms. This local resistance was not specific for the clonotype used for the induction of the resistance. A loss of the epidermal integrity by an attack of T cells capable of producing cutaneous GVHD was a prerequisite for the induction of the resistance. By up to at least 8 mo after injection of the T cells, no mice became susceptible to the cutaneous GVHD again, provided that the T cells were injected into the same footpad sites that had initially received the T cells. This resistance correlated well with the great increase (20-30-fold) in Thy-1+ EC number. The great increase in the number of Thy-1+ EC following destruction of epidermal structures may be important in protecting the epidermal integrity from an additional attack by T cells.

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