Populations of tumor cells obtained from children with lymphoblastic lymphoma were compared with tumor cells from children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia for thymus- or bone marrow-derived lymphocyte characteristics. Thymus derived lymphocytes were identified by their ability to bind sheep erythrocytes as rosette-forming cells. Bone marrow-derived lymphocytes were identified either by the presence of complement receptors or by the presence of immunoglobulins on their surface.

Similar comparison was made between the thymus or bone marrow-derived lymphocyte properties of lymphocyte cell lines established from children with lymphoblastic lymphoma and those established from patients with other lymphoproliferative diseases. The results obtained support the notion that childhood lymphoblastic lymphoma is a cancer of thymus-derived lymphocytes and is clearly different in origin from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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The work was supported by the Kales Fund, Contract N01-CP-3-3333 from the National Cancer Institute, and USPHS General Research Support Grant RR05732-01.

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