With the aid of two-color immunofluorescence and flow cytometry, a new subset of cells coexpressing CD14 and CD16 antigens can be identified in human peripheral blood. Using the monoclonal antibody My4, these CD14+/CD16+ cells account for 2.2% of the mononuclear cells and form about 13% of all cells identified by the monocyte-specific CD14 monoclonal antibody. The CD14+/CD16+ cells can be assigned to the monocyte lineage based on typical morphology, on expression of additional monocyte-associated molecules, on the ability to form reactive oxygen intermediates and on the expression of monocyte- specific NaF-sensitive esterase. Light scatter analysis revealed lower forward angle and right angle light scatter for the CD14+/CD16+ cells compared with the regular monocytes, and the average cell size was determined to be 13.8 and 18.4 microns, respectively. Expression of class II antigens on these “small monocytes” was twofold higher compared with the regular monocytes. By contrast, the capacity to perform adherence to plastic surfaces, as well as the ability to phagocytize antibody-coated erythrocytes was clearly reduced in the CD14+/CD16+ monocyte subset as compared with the regular monocytes. Hence the CD14+/CD16+ cells appear to represent a new monocyte subset with a distinct functional repertoire. A survey of various tissues revealed that a large proportion of the alveolar macrophages, but not of the peritoneal macrophages, express the CD14+/CD16+ phenotype.

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