Mononuclear cell suspensions were prepared from 40 normal peripheral blood and lymphoid tissue specimens and 42 neoplastic specimens obtained from patients with malignant lymphoma and lymphocytic leukemia. These suspensions were analyzed for la antigens, surface immunoglobulin (Slg), sheep erythrocyte (E) rosette formation and, in some instances, acid alpha-naphthyl acetate esterase (ANAE) activity. The results of these studies were correlated with the expression of cytochemically demonstrable BG activity. The percentage of BG+ lymphocytes was found to be comparable, within 10%, to the percentage of E+ (T) cells in the majority of normal, non-neoplastic peripheral blood, tonsil, spleen, and lymph node specimens examined. Occasionally, the percentage of E+ cells exceeded the percentage of BG+ cells by 20% or more, suggesting the presence of an E+BG- T cell subpopulation. BG+ B lymphocytes were only demonstrated in 1 of 40 non-neoplastic lymphoid specimens. The neoplastic B cells in each of 14 B cell (la+Slg+E-) lymphomas were BG-. However, a variable proportion of the neoplastic cells isolated from 6 cases of B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and neoplastic plasma cells isolated from 7 cases of multiple myeloma expressed BG activity. Thus, it appears that both normal and neoplastic BG- and BG+ B lymphocyte populations exist; the latter may be related to a state of activation or a stage of B cell differentiation. The neoplastic cells isolated from 4 T cell (la-Slg-E+) malignancies were BG+ while those isolated from 3 T cell malignancies were BG-. The variable expression of BG activity by T cell malignancies may be related to T cell differentiation. Investigation of BG expression by T cell derived malignancies may prove useful in sorting out T cell phenotypes.

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