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Clin Exp Immunol. 1975 May;20(2):311-22.

Lymphocyte subpopulations. Human red blood cell rosettes.


Human red blood cells (HRBC) even without prior neuraminidase treatment, could form rosettes with human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro. The optimum conditions for forming these rosettes were a pH of 7-0 and a medium with 5% bovine serum albumin (BSA). Rosette proportions became much less at a different pH or using lower concentrations of BSA, or replacing BSA with foetal calf sera (FCS) or human sera. Rosette formation was also promoted by prior treatment of HRBC or lymphocytes with neuraminidase. Mixed rosettes of HRBC and sheep red blood cells (SRBC) showed that HRBC receptors were detectable only on lymphocytes that possessed SRBC receptors, suggesting that HRBC rosette-forming cells were probably thymus-derived (T) cells. Next, the properties of human red blood cell (HRBC) and sheep red blood cell (SRBC) rosette-forming cells were investigated by comparing the ability of human peripheral blood lymphocytes to form these two types of rosettes after treatment with various inhibitory reagents. HRBC rosettes were relatively more resistant to inhibition with: (1) proteolytic agents, such as trypsin, alpha-chymotrypsin and pronase; (2) anti-thymocyte serum (ATS); (3) metabolic inhibitors, such as sodium azide and 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP); (4) cytochalasin B. On further incubation after trypsinization, the lymphocytes recovered some ability to form SRBC rosettes, but continued to lose more of their capability to form HRBC rosettes. All these results were regarded as circumstantial evidence that the HRBC rosettes might represent a subpopulation of human T lymphocytes.

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