The role of physiologically secreted human IFN-gamma in T lymphocyte and NK cell activation has been probed with a panel of mouse mAb directed against various epitopes of the human IFN-gamma molecule, or human IFN-gamma R. Addition to the culture medium of those mAb that neutralize the antiviral activity of IFN-gamma or interact with its receptor inhibited proliferative and cytotoxic responses elicited in PBL by HLA alloantigens, anti-CD3 mAb, and IL-2, but not the proliferative response to PHA. The IFN-gamma blockade also inhibited IFN-gamma, IL-2, and TNF-alpha release during MLC. Kinetic experiments showed that reduction of proliferative and cytotoxic responses to HLA alloantigens is maximal when IFN-gamma is blocked within the first 48 h. Exogenous rIFN-gamma restored the proliferative response only when added at the beginning. Moreover, when IFN-gamma was blocked, T lymphocytes recovered from 6-day MLC displayed a profound decrease in their expression of p55 and p75 chains of the IL-2R, as well as in the number of high-affinity IL-2 binding sites. These findings strongly suggest that IFN-gamma is required in the early phases of induction of the oligo- and polyclonal proliferative and cytotoxic responses of lymphocytes.

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