The relative requirement for zinc in B-cell and T-cell mitogenesis was investigated utilizing a tritiated thymidine uptake assay. When ethylene diaminetetraacetate (EDTA) was added to the culture medium at concentrations less than 0.02 mM, B-cell mitogenesis, induced by lipopolysaccharide B (LPS), was not affected. However, T-cell mitogenesis, induced by either phytohemagglutinin P (PHA) or concanavalin A (Con A), was inhibited. When fetal calf serum (FCS) dialyzed against EDTA was used in the medium, B-cell mitogenesis was again unaffected, whereas T-cell mitogenesis was reduced by nearly one-half, even in the absence of EDTA in the medium. Cell viability was practically unaffected by the dialysis procedure. However, the addition of EDTA at concentrations of 0.01 to 0.05 mM reduced the percentage of viable cells by about one-third. Cell viability was reduced to practically zero at a concentration of 0.5 mM EDTA. The inhibitory effect of EDTA on Con A-stimulated mitogenesis was completely reversed by zinc, only partially reversed by nickel, and unaffected by either calcium or magnesium. Thus it appears that B-cell mitogenesis is not affected by zinc deficiency in vitro, whereas T-cell mitogenesis is substantially inhibited, indicating the requirement of zinc for T-cell function.
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