The purpose of this study was to analyze the expression of B8.7 antigen and its implication in the low molecular weight B-Cell growth factor (LMW BCGF) proliferative pathway at the early stages of the human B- cell differentiation. After an overnight incubation in culture medium of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL), we demonstrated the presence of B8.7 antigen in 18 of 25 cases (72%). Such an incubation also induced a significant increase in the LMW BCGF responsiveness of ALL cells (P less than 0.03). In addition, we showed a significant correlation between B8.7 expression and the ability of pre-B ALL cells to respond to LMW BCGF. As previously described for normal B cells, the anti-B8.7 monoclonal antibody inhibited the LMW BCGF-dependent proliferation of pre-B ALL cells in a dose-dependent manner. These data indicate that B8.7 antigen is expressed and may be functionally related to the LMW BCGF pathway at the pre-B cell stages of differentiation. These results also suggest that human B-cell precursor ALL are not only phenotypically similar to their normal B lymphocyte counterparts, but are also sensitive to the same immunoregulatory cytokines that control normal cell growth.

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