The effects of phytohemagglutinin (PHA) were studied in irradiated mice to see if a definite myeloproliferative effect could be demonstrated in vivo. The data obtained suggested the following conclusions.
PHA treatment of the bone marrow donor only, causes a consistent but slight reduction in transplantable spleen colony-forming unit (CFU) content of the bone marrow 24 hr after the last PHA injection, but no change was found in the proportion of the various colony types.
PHA treatment of the irradiated recipient of normal bone marrow causes no change in the number of spleen colonies. However, 8-day colonies are only about half normal size, are much more likely to be of mixed cell types, contain many large undifferentiated blastoid cells, but fewer transplantable CFU. The spleen sinusoids are packed with hemopoietic cells.
Spleen colonies developing in hosts receiving daily injections of PHA show, in addition to the usual spectrum of cell types, a high proportion of unusual blastoid cells resembling the PHA transformed peripheral lymphocytes seen in vitro. The function of these cells is not known, but they may represent augmented proliferation and/or transformation of stem cells.
PHA administered after irradiation significantly increased the number of endogenous spleen colonies, and, at certain doses of irradiation, improved postirradiation survival.
PHA administered before irradiation had no effect on the number of endogenous spleen colonies formed, or on postirradiation survival.
On the basis of these and other data, possible modes of action of PHA are discussed.