T cell-derived supernatants (SN) that contain B cell-stimulatory factor 1 (BSF-1) and lack IL-2 promote the growth of the IL-2-dependent T cell line, HT-2, as well as three other clones or lines of T cells that can provide help to B cells. The BSF-1 purified from these SNs promotes growth of HT-2 cells approximately 50% as effectively as purified IL-2. A potential involvement for contaminating IL-2 in the BSF-1 preparations was excluded by the demonstration that anti-BSF-1 mAbs blocked the BSF-1-induced growth of HT-2 cells; in contrast, these antibodies did not block the IL-2-induced proliferation of the HT-2 cells. In addition, anti-IL-2 mAbs or anti-IL-2-R antibodies blocked the HT-2 growth-promoting activity of purified IL-2, but not BSF-1. Finally, BSF-1 promoted only a very modest growth of Con A-induced T cell blasts, and failed to induce significant growth in seven other cytotoxic, alloreactive, and long-term T cell lines. Taken together, these results indicate that in addition to its known effects on resting and LPS-stimulated B cells, BSF-1 can promote growth of certain subsets of activated T cells, in particular, those that provide help to B cells.

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