The lysosome content of lymphocytes has been analyzed with lysosomotropic vital stains and the fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS). Large granular lymphocytes (LGL), which account for virtually all natural killing activity in peripheral blood, are quantitatively different from small lymphocytes (SL) in this respect. LGL obtained by Percoll gradient density centrifugation accumulate more of the lysosomotropic vital dyes than SL do, staining with either neutral red or mepacrine (quinacrine). Furthermore among the LGL-rich, low density lymphocyte population highly, granulated cells can be separated from less granulated ones by mepacrine staining and FACS. Thus, separated highly granulated LGL express very high natural killing, whereas the less granulated low density large lymphocytes do not kill.

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