Prior work has shown that purified, resident, and inflammatory peritoneal macrophages are weak stimulators of the allogeneic MLR. We have identified conditions whereby thioglycollate-elicited macrophages become stimulatory, but primarily for the CD8+ T cell subset. The conditions were to treat the macrophages with neuraminidase and to supplement the MLR with rIL-2. These treatments together led to proliferative and cytotoxic responses by isolated CD8+ but not CD4+ T cells. Likewise when MHC-congenic strains were evaluated, an MLR was observed across isolated class I but not class II MHC barriers. Pretreatment of the macrophages with IFN-gamma further enhanced expression of class I MHC products and stimulatory activity, but did not seem essential. While these treatments did not render macrophages stimulatory for an MLR in purified CD4+ cells, blastogenesis of CD4+ cells was observed when the MLR involved bulk T cells. Small allogeneic B lymphocytes behaved similarly to macrophages, in the pretreatment with neuraminidase and supplementation with rIL-2 rendered B cells stimulatory for allogeneic, enriched, CD8+, but not CD4+, T cells. Spleen adherent cells, which are mixtures of macrophages and dendritic cells, stimulated both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and neither neuraminidase nor exogenous IL-2 was required. We think that these data suggest that most macrophages and small B cells lack three important functions of dendritic cells: a T cell-binding function that can be remedied by neuraminidase treatment, a T cell growth factor-inducing function that can be bypassed with exogenous IL-2, and an IL-2 responsiveness function that is required by CD4+ lymphocytes.

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