The production of histamine-releasing factor (HRF) by human mononuclear cells has previously been reported. In this paper we describe the production of HRF by guinea pig spleen cells, thymocytes, and PBMC. Guinea pig lymphoid cells were cultured either alone or in the presence of mitogens (PHA and Con A) or specific Ag(OVA and keyhole limpet hemocyanin) and the dialyzed cell-free supernatant was tested for histamine-releasing activity on guinea pig lung mast cells and blood basophils. Lung mast cells were isolated by enzymatic digestion and partially purified by countercurrent elutriation and discontinuous Percoll gradient centrifugation. Guinea pig spleen cells, thymocytes, and PBMC spontaneously produced significant amounts of HRF. The production was enhanced upon stimulation with PHA or specific Ag in animals immunized with Ag in CFA. Two distinct species of HRF were identified with m.w. of 50,000 to 70,000 and 5000 to 8000 by gel chromatography. HRF is a trypsin- and chymotrypsin-sensitive heat-stable protein. It does not bind to Con A-Sepharose and its production is not inhibited by tunicamycin. HRF-induced histamine release from lung mast cells is a temperature-dependent process and is complete in 10 min at 37 degrees C. Intradermal injection of HRF caused an immediate ear-swelling reaction in guinea pigs. The most severe ear-swelling reactions did not resolve within 1 h, but instead evolved over a period of 12 to 24 h.

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