We recently described a factor, costimulator, that is required for the concavalin A-induced proliferation of CBA mouse thymocytes in vitro (see Reference 1). Using the costimulator dependence of mouse thymocytes as an assay, we have now determined that spleen cells from congenitally athymic (nude) BALB/c mice do not produce costimulator in response to Con A, and spleen cells depleted of Thy 1-positive cells do not respond to it in the presence of Con A. Thus, costimulator both requires thymus-derived (Thy 1+) lymphocytes for its production and has an effect on this type of cell. (However, the costimulator-producing and responsive cells may be different.) Purified costimulator preparations are a source of the required second component for the stimulation of adult, CBA/J thymic lymphocytes by PHA, normally a poor mitogen for these cells. They also enhance the level of DNA synthesis in a mixed leukocyte reaction, and the specific generation of cytotoxic lymphocytes to allogeneic tumor cells in vitro. Costimulator is not H-2 restricted in its effects, and it is produced in mixed leukocyte reactions. Finally, it has been possible to grow normal, primary thymic lymphocytes in culture for about 20 days by adding partially purified costimulator to the cultures.

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