Injection of murine recombinant interleukin-3 (IL-3) into (C57BL/10 x DBA/2)F1 mice, sublethally irradiated with 300 cGy and killed 14 days later, induced in the thymus recovery of the cell number and mitotic responsiveness to concanavalin A (Con A), as well as an increase in number of double-negative CD4-CD8-, double-positive CD4+ CD8+, and single-positive CD4+CD8- and CD4-CD8+ cells. Also in the spleen, the cell count and mitotic responsiveness to Con A and lipopolysaccharide were increased to normal levels by IL-3 treatment. If the assays were performed 21 or 28 days after irradiation, IL-3 treatment was able to restore thymus and spleen cell counts as well as T- and B-cell mitotic responsiveness, even when mice were exposed to 400 or 500 cGy, respectively. These results altogether indicate that IL-3 induces differentiation and growth of thymocytes and recovery of T- and B-cell functions in mice exposed to sublethal irradiation.

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