The effect of human plasma, the plasma protein fractions of Cohn, and crystallized serum albumin on the in vitro growth of human lymphocytes activated by concanavalin A (Con A) or bacterial lipopolysaccharide was compared. It was found that fraction V or serum albumin (SA) is essential for growth of activated T and B lymphocytes. The other plasma proteins have no effect. The growth response of Con A-activated T lymphocytes to increasing concentrations of SA is similar to the response to increasing equivalent concentrations of plasma suggesting but not proving that SA is the only growth-stimulating factor in plasma when added to a protein-free culture medium. The growth-promoting effect of SA is not due to the fatty acids or hormones bound to SA but is attributed to the albumin molecule itself or to a factor tightly bound to it. SA can also effectively replace plasma to stimulate proliferation of lymphocytes activated by allogeneic lymphocytes or purified protein derivative of tuberculin.

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