A human thymus-dependent differentiation antigen, TH2 was defined by a rabbit anti-human T cell serum absorbed with autologous B lymphoblasts and leukemic cells bearing T cell markers from a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Anti-TH2 reacted specifically with thymus-derived lymphoid cells and exhibited two distinct profiles of reactivity with normal peripheral T cells as detected by indirect immunofluorescence on a FACS I. Isolation of strongly reactive, TH2+, from weakly reactive, TH2- T cells by fluorescence-activated cell sorting revealed that the TH2+ subset contained most of the killer activity in cell-mediated lympholysis (CML), but had a diminished response in MLC and a suboptimal or negligible proliferative response to soluble antigens (mumps, PPD, tetanus toxoid). In contrast, the TH2- subset contained markedly less killer activity but amplified cytotoxicity by TH2+ cells and exhibited a proliferative response to both alloantigen and soluble antigens that was often significantly greater than the response by unseparated T cells. The relevance of these findings to previously described human T cell subsets and to functional subpopulations of murine T cells is discussed.

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