The ability of human thymus-derived CD7+CD2-CD3- cells to acquire mature T cell antigens was assessed. Purified CD7+ thymocytes were incubated with rIL-1, rIL-2, and/or recombinant soluble CD23 (rsCD23). Short-term incubation of these cells with only rsCD23 + rIL-1 induced mature T cell antigen expression on at least half of the cells. The induction of CD2 was functionally significant, as these cells became able to respond to CD2 triggering and could proliferate in response to IL-2. Possible sources of CD23 in the thymus are under investigation.

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