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A leukocyte subset bearing HLA-DR antigens is responsible for in vitro alpha interferon production in response to viruses.


In this report, we characterize the major human peripheral blood nonadherent mononuclear cell subset that is responsible for the production in vitro of alpha-interferon (alpha IFN) in response to influenza, Sendai, and Newcastle disease viruses. Using a panel of anti-monocyte, anti-B, anti-T and anti-natural killer cell monoclonal antibodies to purify and recover both positive and negative cell populations, we show that the major alpha IFN-producing cells are HLA-DR(+) cells with no other surface markers characteristic of either lymphocytes or myelomonocytic cells. These cells copurify, on Percoll density gradients, with cells mediating NK activity, but the cell population responsible for alpha IFN production can be distinguished unambiguously from NK cells based on the former's reactivity with an anti-HLA-DR monoclonal antibody, the lack of reactivity with antibodies that detect the low-affinity receptor for IgG on human natural killer cells and granulocytes, and the inability to mediate spontaneous cytotoxicity. Double immunofluorescence assays indicate that cells of this subset, the lineage of which is as yet undetermined but which might be related to dendritic cells, constitute a minor proportion (approximately 1-1.5%) of the nonadherent mononuclear cells from healthy donors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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