Several previously described B cell growth factor (BCGF) activities from a number of mouse monoclonal T cell sources were compared in different functional assays. The results indicate that there are two distinct classes of BCGF defined by functional activity and source. BCGF I, whose prototype is (EL4)BCGF, synergized with anti-Ig in the proliferation of normal splenic B cells but had no activity when dextran sulfate (DXS), rather than anti-Ig, was used to costimulate the same source of B cells. BCGF I also failed to directly stimulate BCL1 tumor B cells. In contrast, BCGF II, whose prototype is (DL)BCGF, showed a reciprocal pattern of activity. BCGF II failed to synergize with anti-Ig-costimulated normal B cells to give good proliferative responses. Sources of BCGF II also directly stimulated (no anti-Ig or DXS added) B cells of the BCL1 tumor-carrying mice. These results suggest that the two BCGF may have activity on two subsets of B cells that respond differentially to induction with the two polyclonal B cell activators, anti-Ig and DXS. The possibilities that these different patterns of response occur in separate lineages of B cells and/or in B cells in different states of differentiation is discussed.

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