Human monocytes, after in vitro activation by mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) superantants produce a monokine (MK) that enhances the plaque-forming cell (PFC) response of pokeweed mitogen (PWM)-stimulated human B lymphocytes. Technical conditions and kinetics of MK production were established. Irradiation of monocytes (5000 rads) does not abolish MK production but heat-killed cells are unable to release the factor. Highly T cell-deplated monocyte populations still produced the PFC-enhancing factor. The same MK has an inconsistent enhancing effect on the PFC responses of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and nocardia water-soluble mitogen (NWSM)-stimulated B cells. Other macrophage activators such as LPS, phytohemagglutinin (PHA), and latex particles failed to induce consistently the liberation of the PFC-enhancing MK. The target cell for the MK activity on PWM-stimulated B cells appears to be the B lymphocyte itself. These studies demonstrate that soluble monocyte products can have substantial modulatory effects on human B cell function.

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