Thymic influence upon immunoregulation of B-lymphocyte differentiation in human bone marrow was investigated. Mononuclear cells isolated from marrow of normal adult volunteers were incubated with thymic epithelial monolayers or with the polypeptide thymopoietin. Generation of pokeweed mitogen-stimulated anti-sheep red blood cell antibody-secreting direct plaque-forming cells (PFC) was found to be inhibited following incubation of marrow mononuclear cells with thymic epithelial monolayers. Addition of 50 ng/ml thymopoietin to pokeweed mitogen-stimulated cultures resulted in enhanced marrow PFC responses, whereas higher doses of thymopoietin were inhibitory for the generation of PFC in this assay system. The data suggest that both helper and suppressor T cells are recruited from their precursors in human bone marrow by thymic influences. Generation of helper or suppressor cells may be dependent upon (a) the stage of differentation of precursor T cells and (b) upon the specific action and intensity of the thymic influence.
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