The enhancement of in vitro human hematopoiesis by the addition of a noncytotoxic monoclonal antibody, 9.1C3, is described. Enhancement of all aspects of in vitro hematopoiesis was observed on addition of 9.1C3 antibody to cultures of mononuclear cells from normal bone marrow, cord blood, and peripheral blood from beta-thalassemia major patients. In cultures with no exogenous colony-stimulating factor (CSF), the addition of 9.1C3 resulted in a two- to eightfold increase in nonerythroid colony formation. Similarly, for cultures maximally stimulated with CSF, the addition of 9.1C3 antibody resulted in a one- to fourfold increase in colony formation. These effects were abrogated by the removal of either adherent, Leu-M3+ or Leu-7+ cells. Colony- forming cells were shown to be present among the 9.1C3-negative cells when mononuclear cells were sorted by flow cytometry. Media conditioned in the presence of 9.1C3 and mononuclear cells were able to enhance colony formation in vitro for normal nonadherent bone marrow cells beyond that achieved with supramaximal amounts of human placental- conditioned medium and erythropoietin. The data suggest that natural killer cells interact with monocytes to exert a negative regulatory control on in vitro granulopoiesis and erythropoiesis. Consequently, the number of progenitor and multipotential cells in cultures of unfractionated cell populations may be greatly underestimated.

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