The present study shows that human large granular lymphocytes (LGL) depleted of OKT3 (T lymphocytes) and Leu-M1-positive (monocytes) cells exhibit accessory cell function for the T lymphoproliferative responses to the soluble stimulants Staphylococcus protein A (SpA) or Streptolysin O (SLO), as well as to surface antigens in the autologous and allogeneic mixed leukocyte reaction (MLR). Fractionation of LGL into subsets according to their reactivity with alpha OKT11, alpha DR, and alpha OKM1 MoAb led to the identification of the subset(s) of LGL with OKT11+, DR+, OKM1+ phenotype as the antigen-presenting cell (APC), whereas the DR-, OKM1- subset(s) of LGL was completely ineffective. Furthermore, virtually all the natural killer (NK) activity of LGL was associated with OKT11+ and OKM1+, DR+ LGL that exerted the observed APC function, suggesting that NK-active cells may also act as effective APC for T lymphocyte activation. These results indicate that human LGL with NK activity may exert other noncytotoxic functions and may play a major role in immunoregulation.

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