Human lymphocytes from spleen and tonsils have been cultured with a variety of polyclonal mitogens. Cultures consisted of either unseparated T and B cells or alternatively purified T or B lymphocytes. The purity of the starting cell populations and the origin of activated lymphoblasts was analyzed with a panel of seven markers which discriminate between T and B cells. The selectivity of the lymphocyte responses was influenced by cell populations in a given culture, the mitogen used, and to a limited extent on culture conditions. Purified T lymphocytes from tonsil and spleen responded to phytohemagglutinin (PHA), pokeweed mitogen (PWM), and staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). Purified B cells from spleen responded well to PWM, weakly to SEB and lipopolysaccharide, but not at all to PHA. Tonsil B cells responded weakly to PWM and SEB but not to PHA. Some B lymphocytes do respond to PHA in the presence of activated T cells. These results are discussed in relation to previously reported selective responses of human cells and parallel studies in animal species.

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