We have investigated the effects of interleukin (IL)-12 (natural killer cell stimulatory factor/cytotoxic lymphocyte maturation factor) on the proliferation of murine myeloid and lymphohematopoietic progenitors in methylcellulose culture. In the presence of erythropoietin (Ep), IL-12 alone failed to support colony formation by mononuclear and enriched marrow cells of normal mice. Steel factor (SF) alone supported primarily formation of granulocyte/macrophage (GM) colony formation. However, the combination of the two cytokines yielded a significant number of multilineage colonies. When tested on marrow cells from 5- fluorouracil (5-FU)-treated mice, the combination of IL-12 and SF, but not the single factors, was effective in support of formation of various types of colonies. Approximately 25% of these colonies yielded pre-B-cell colonies when replated in secondary culture containing SF and IL-7, indicating that IL-12 can interact with SF in supporting the development of primitive lymphohematopoietic progenitors. These results demonstrate that IL-12, a cytokine believed to be involved in the development of cell-mediated immune responses, has a wider range of activity, including committed myeloid and multipotent lymphohematopoietic progenitors.

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