The cells in mouse bone marrow (BM) capable of responding to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) were shown to be precursor T cells in experiments employing athymic mice, immunofluorescence, and specific lysis of T or B cells with cytotoxic antisera + complement. In contrast, the responses of lymph node (LN) and spleen (Spl) cells to this mitogen were shown by the same techniques to rely upon resident populations of mature T lymphocytes in these peripheral lymphoid organs. Cytolysis of T cells with anti-theta (anti-Thy 1), anti-thymocyte, or anti-brain antisera abolished the PHA responses of LN and Spl, but had no appreciable effect on the BM PHA response. Lysis of B cells with anti-mouse gamma globulin or anti-mouse IgM antisera had no significant effect on either Spl or BM blastogenesis in response to this lectin. Immunofluorescent studies with fluoresceinated anti-brain sera demonstrated acquisition of T-cell surface antigens by BM null lymphocytes during the blastogenic response of this tissue to PHA. The results of these immunofluorescence experiments were reproducible even when marrow obtained from nude mice and pretreated with anti-brain serum plus complement was employed. The implications of these findings with regard to prophylaxis against graft versus host disease in BM transplant recipients are discussed.

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