Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Heterogeneity of large granular lymphocyte proliferations: delineation of two major subtypes

  1. WC Chan,
  2. S Link,
  3. A Mawle,
  4. I Check,
  5. RK Brynes, and
  6. EF Winton


Two major types of lymphocytosis of large granular lymphocytes (LGLs) were observed. The proliferating LGLs in each type had distinct immunophenotypes, functional characteristics, and probably belonged to different cell lineages. The more common form (Type A) consisted of cells derived from the T cell lineage and had the T suppressor/cytotoxic phenotype (T11+, T3+, T8+). The expression of the Leu 7 and HLA-DR antigen was variable. These cells did not have natural killer (NK) function but showed a variable degree of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxic (ADCC) activity. Neutropenia was invariably present and rheumatoid arthritis and autoantibodies were frequent associations. These lymphocytes had many similarities to the major type of LGLs present in normal adult bone marrow. The other type of LGL lymphocytosis (Type B) consisted of cells lacking the antigens T3 and T8 but expressing M1 and NKH1. These cells possessed strong NK and ADCC activity but their cell lineage was not clear. Neutropenia and autoimmune phenomena were not detected. The cytochemical characteristics of the LGL granules from both types of patients were similar but differences in ultrastructure were observed. LGLs from Type B patients proliferated in the presence of Interleukin 2 (IL-2) and 12- O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13 acetate (TPA). Significant changes in their basic T11+, T3-, T8- phenotype were not observed. IL-2 and TPA, however, had profound influence on the NK function of the cells with enhancement in the case of IL-2 and marked suppression when stimulated by TPA.