Abstract

A man from Chile developed an aggressive mature T cell leukemia associated with marked eosinophilia. The neoplastic lymphocytes were of T helper surface phenotype, and they expressed the p24 and p19 antigens of human T cell leukemia virus (HTLV). A cell line (ME) was established from the patient's peripheral blood cells that was initially composed of eosinophils and T and B lymphocytes. The B lymphocytes of the cell line are polyclonal and contain Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA. Many of the T lymphocytes, a few of the B lymphocytes, and none of the eosinophils express HTLV p19 and p24 antigens. By 6 months of culture, the ME line no longer contained eosinophils. A variant line of ME was established; this variant (ME-2) is notable because the cells (greater than 80%) adhere tightly to the bottom of the culture flask; they do not express T lymphocyte markers, but 30% of the cells contain cytoplasmic mu heavy immunoglobulin chains. These pre-B and null lymphocytes contain p19 and p24 antigens (80% of cells), have the HTLV- I genome, and are able to transform normal T lymphocytes in vitro. We isolated a B lymphocyte clone (11A) from ME that expresses cytoplasmic immunoglobulin (70% of cells) and p19 and p24 antigens (75% of cells), contains the EBV and HTLV genomes, and can transform T lymphocytes from normal volunteers. These data show that B lymphocytes can be infected with HTLV, although no disease of HTLV-infected B lymphocytes has been reported. The T lymphocytes from normal adult peripheral blood were easily immortalized (about 70% efficiency) by cocultivation with lethally irradiated ME cells. Twenty-five of 27 of the transformant lines were composed of T lymphocytes with helper antigens, and two of the lines were of T suppressor antigen phenotype. All the cell lines that were tested constitutively produce lymphokines, including colony- stimulating factor (CSF), erythroid-potentiating activity (EPA), macrophage migration-inhibitory factory (MIF), neutrophil-inhibitory factor (NIF), and differentiation-inducing factor (DIF).

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