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The recently cloned cytotoxic lymphocyte maturation factor (interleukin 12 [IL-12]) has been described as a growth factor for mature lymphocytes. The present study investigated whether purified recombinant murine IL-12 (rMuIL-12) also could affect the proliferation of primitive bone marrow progenitor cells. Using a population of Lin-Sca-1+ murine bone marrow stem cells, we now demonstrate that IL-12 is a potent synergistic factor for primitive hematopoietic stem cells. The synergy of IL-12 was observed in single-cell cloning assays, demonstrating that its effects are directly mediated. Specifically, IL-12 enhanced stem cell factor-induced myelopoiesis of Lin-Sca-1+ cells sevenfold, and synergized with colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) to induce proliferation of Lin-Sca-1+ stem cells. IL-12 increased the number of responding progenitor cells as well as the size of the colonies formed. IL-12 also increased colony formation of high proliferative potential colony-forming cells with multiple CSF combinations. The effects of IL-12 were concentration dependent with a 50% effective dose of 2-20 and 20-200 ng/ml, resulting in maximum stimulation. Furthermore, a neutralizing anti-IL-12 antibody blocked the synergistic effects of rMuIL-12. In addition, IL-12 was found to have synergistic effects on more committed bone marrow progenitors as well. Our results therefore suggest that in addition to being a potent lymphopoietic stimulator, IL-12 is a regulator of the growth of hematopoietic stem cells and their myeloid progeny.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Med

Publication Date





413 - 418


Animals, Cell Division, Cells, Cultured, Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor, Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor, Growth Substances, Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Interleukin-12, Interleukins, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Rats, Stem Cell Factor