Murine intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes. II. Comparison of freshly isolated and cultured intraepithelial lymphocytes
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Highly enriched preparations of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) containing a large subpopulation of granulated cells were isolated from the murine small intestinal mucosa. We cultured IEL in media containing interleukin 2 (growth media conditioned with 20% concanavalin A supernatant; Con A CM) or mast cell growth factor(s) (growth media conditioned with 40% WEHI-3 supernatant; WEHI CM) and compared the physical and functional properties of the cultured cells to freshly isolated IEL. IEL cultured in Con A CM developed enhanced cytotoxicity against YAC-1, compared to freshly isolated IEL, and spontaneous cytotoxicity for P815 targets. Most of these cultured cells were Thy-1+ Lyt-1- Lyt-2+, and contained cytoplasmic granules similar to those seen in electron photomicrographs of other cytotoxic cell populations. IEL cultured in WEHI CM gave rise to cells that morphologically resembled mast cells. Unlike freshly isolated IEL, the cells stained metachromatically, contained 200-450 ng of histamine/10(6) cells and expressed high-affinity receptors for IgE. Our data clearly show that, although IEL do not themselves have physical characteristics of mast cells, they do contain mast cell precursors. In addition, IEL grown in the presence of T cell growth factors give rise to an activated cytotoxic cell population which is mostly granulated and Thy-1+ Lyt-1- Lyt-2+.