Human lymphocytes studied after being placed in culture for 1-6 wk progressively lost stimulating ability, i.e., lymphocyte defined antigens, when tested in one way mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) but retained several other identifiable membrane components as well as the capacity to respond to mitogenic stimuli. Lymphocytes placed in culture with motogenic doses of PHA and Con-A after 1 and 2 wk strongly stimulated autologous responding fresh lymphocytes, but the MLC response of allogeneic fresh lymphocytes to stimulating lectin treated cells was even lower than the response to stimulating allogeneic cultured lymphocytes. The HL-A antigens on lectin treated cells or on lymphocytes through 6 wk in culture were clearly identifiable. Assays for T cell rosettes and B cell surface immunoglobulin showed both cell types to be present in numbers equal to fresh lymphocytes for up to 5 wk after culturing. However, the Fc receptor site on B cells was lost from cultured lymphocytes at the same time that MLC stimulation was lost. It is concluded that plant lectins can unmask new mitogenic sites on the cell surface as well as mask or delete existing sites, and that culturing lymphocytes for 1-6 wk will produce somewhat similar modulations. Modulation of surface membrane components by tissue culture or lectins may, therefore, have a profound effect in altering transplantation immunogenicity.
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