We have recently shown that a proportion of previously designated human eosinophil “(Eo)-type” colonies in methylcellulose contain basophils and histamine (Denburg et al Blood 61:775, 1983). In the present studies, individual Eo-type colonies have been analyzed by cell morphology as well as by biochemical assays for histamine, Charcot- Leyden crystal protein (CLC), and eosinophil granule major basic protein (MBP). Clonal origin of single Eo-type colonies was confirmed by G6PD isoenzyme analysis. Morphological observations of such colonies revealed the existence of two distinct colony types: (1) Eo type containing 100% basophils and (2) Eo type containing mixtures of basophils and eosinophils, including cells with mixed basophil- eosinophil granulation. Histamine was not detected in pure, mature peripheral blood eosinophils. Immunofluorescent studies demonstrated bright staining for CLC and MBP in 95% +/- 3% of cells in Eo-type colonies but only in 5% +/- 4% of cells in GM-type colonies. Radioimmunoassay for MBP was positive in 5/9 Eo-type and 0/10 neutrophil-macrophage (“GM-type”) colonies, with a mean level (nanogram/colony) of 11.6 +/- 4.2 per Eo-type colony; four of the latter colonies were doubly positive for both histamine and MBP. These and previous findings point out the morphological and biochemical heterogeneity of peripheral blood Eo-type colonies and provide direct evidence for the existence of a common, circulating basophil-eosinophil progenitor.
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