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We have studied the capacity of interleukin (IL) 7 to support the growth and expansion of human T cell clones of different phenotype and function. All the clones studied (CD4+CD8+, CD4-CD8- Tcell receptor alpha/beta or gamma/delta) responded to IL 7. The proliferative response of all the T cell clones induced by IL 7 was routinely less than to IL2, but comparable to the IL4 response. IL 7 also induced the proliferation of resting, freshly prepared peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or Tcell-enriched (E+) cells. The pattern of proliferation observed in the presence of IL 7 was similar, but lower in magnitude, to that induced by IL 2. In both these cells populations the response to lymphokines alone was always less than the response to lymphokines plus insolubilized anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody. In contrast IL4 produced a different pattern of responsiveness, as significant proliferation was observed only on PBMC costimulated with anti-CD3. The possibility that IL 7 mediates its growth stimulation by the IL2 pathway was excluded by the incapacity of anti-IL2 or anti-Tac monoclonal antibody, in concentrations which blocked IL2-dependent proliferation, to inhibit IL 7-dependent growth. We conclude that IL 7 is a major growth factor for human mature T cells, and its activity is not limited to lymphocyte progenitors.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur j immunol

Publication Date





425 - 428


Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD8 Antigens, Cell Division, Growth Substances, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Interleukin-2, Interleukin-4, Interleukin-7, Receptors, Interleukin-2, T-Lymphocytes