Human peripheral blood monocytes were isolated by counterflow centrifugation elutriation (CCE). This technique was modified in such a way that various monocyte fractions (viability greater than 99%) could be elutriated by increasing the density of the CCE-medium in steps of 0.0027 g/ml. All monocytes showed the same size distributions as determined by electronic sizing, which indicated that they differed in their density only. Both cytoplasmic esterase and peroxidase activity increased with the density of the cells. Furthermore, the monocytes with the highest density were 2.3–4 times more active in an antibody- dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) assay than those with the lowest density. In contrast, the monocyte with the highest density were less capable to induce the proliferation of lymphocytes in mixed leukocyte cultures (MLC) than those with the lowest density. This observation could not be attributed to differences in the expression of HLA-DR determinants, since a monoclonal antibody directed against HLA-DR antigens reacted equally well with the monocytes in different fractions. These results provide evidence for the existence of functionally different subsets of monocytes or different states of differentiation or maturation.

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