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Thymus-Derived Rosette-Forming Cells in Various Human Disease States: Cancer, Lymphoma, Bacterial and Viral Infections, and Other Diseases

Joseph Wybran and H. Hugh Fudenberg

Section of Hematology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94122

Immunology Research Laboratory, Mount Zion Hospital, San Francisco, California 94119

Published May 1973

Lymphocytes that bind in vitro to sheep erythrocytes in a rosette formation are thymus-derived. A modified technique that does not detect the total number of rosette-forming cells (RFC) was used to study normal subjects and various disease states. Of 100 healthy subjects, 95 had more than 15% RFC (mean 28.4±6.5%). We studied 104 patients with solid tumors, who were classified according to clinical status and stage of therapy. Of 19 newly diagnosed patients, 13 had less than 15% RFC. Of 44 untreated patients undergoing relapse, 32 had less than 15% RFC. In both categories, patients with metastases had fewer RFC than patients with localized disease. 11 patients were studied 2 wk after cessation of therapy; four of them showed less than 15% RFC. Only one of 30 patients in remission had less than 15% RFC. In seven patients followed for various periods of time, the numbers of RFC correlated generally with clinical status. 11 patients with chronic lymphatic leukemia had very low percentages of RFC. 21 of 21 patients with symptoms of viral upper respiratory diseases had less than 15% RFC. RFC returned to normal values between 5 days and 7 wk after disappearance of clinical symptoms. 20 patients with bacterial infections had normal numbers of RFC. Of 25 patients with miscellaneous nonimmunologically related diseases, two had low numbers of RFC. It appears that the percentage of RFC may be valuable in evaluating not only immunological defenses but also the status of patients with solid tumors, lymphomas, viral diseases and, perhaps, bacterial infections.

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