Highly purified populations of T and B lymphocytes obtained by affinity column separation were stimulated by antigen and their ability to produce two mediators, migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and lymphocyte mitogenic factor (LMF) was assessed. Both T- and B-cell populations made MIF; the production of MIF was antigen-specific using purified protein derivative of tuberculin, streptokinase-streptodornase, and Candida antigens. The MIF activity from both populations could not be attributed to antigen-antibody complexes as the inhibitory activity eluted from Sephadex G-100 columns in the same region corresponding to mol wt 23,000 daltons. Further studies indicate that the T cells producing MIF are proliferating cells whereas the B cells producing this mediator are not.
In contrast, LMF was made only by T cells and not B cells when these populations were stimulated by antigen. The LMF induced the [3H]thymidine incorporation into both T and B cells obtained from donors lacking sensitivity to the antigens used to elicit the factor. Chromatographic studies indicate that LMF eluted from Sephadex G-100 in a fraction of mol wt 23,000 daltons where MIF is also found; however, since B cells produce MIF but not LMF, these two factors appear to be distinct from one another.
Some of the implications of these findings are discussed. The explanation for the production or lack of production of MIF by lymphocytes obtained from patients with immunodeficiency disorders requires reinterpretation.