Hairy cell leukemia is a well described clinical entity, but the cell of origin for this leukemic cell and its function are still unknown. There are no totally specific markers for this cell, although tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase staining has been used extensively as a diagnostic test. This study describes three monoclonal murine antibodies with variable specificity for hairy cells. Antibody 1 was highly specific for hairy cells and was not found to react with normal or leukemic cells in this limited study. It did not react with the cells of all patients. It also did not react with all of the hairy cells of some of the positive cases. Antibodies 2 and 3 reacted with virtually all hairy cells but not with normal peripheral blood cells. However, reactions were obtained with certain leukemic myelomonoblasts and some activated B cells. The most obvious use for these three antibodies is for diagnostic purposes. They should also be helpful reagents to investigate the origin of the leukemic hairy cell. The possibility that antibody 1 detects a tumor-specific antigen is discussed.
D N Posnett, N Chiorazzi, H G Kunkel