Antigen-activated T lymphocytes produce within 24 h of stimulation a factor that is indistinguishable biochemically and functionally from the B cell co-stimulating growth factor, BCGF-I, originally identified in induced EL4 supernatants: Supernatants from antigen-stimulated T cell lines are not directly mitogenic for resting B cells, but synergize in an H-2-unrestricted manner with anti-Ig activated B cells to produce polyclonal proliferation but not antibody-forming-cell development; biochemical studies reveal the B cell co-stimulating factor present in antigen-stimulated T cell line supernatants is identical by phenyl Sepharose chromatography and isoelectric focusing (IEF) to EL4 supernatant BCGF-I. We thus conclude that normal T cells produce BCGF-I in response to antigenic stimulation. Analysis of the mechanism of BCGF-I production by antigen-stimulated T cells showed that optimum amounts of BCGF-I were obtained as quickly as 24 h post-stimulation, and that the factor producing cells in the T cell line investigated bore the Lyt-1+2- phenotype. As few as 10(4) T cells produced sufficient BCGF-I to support the proliferation of 5 X 10(4) purified anti-Ig activated B cells. Finally, the activation of normal T cell lines to produce BCGF-I required either antigen presented in the context of syngeneic antigen-presenting cells (APC) or interleukin 2 (IL-2).

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