PGE2-induced inhibition of the proliferatory response of PHA-stimulated human PBL and Con A-stimulated murine thymocytes was analyzed by flow cytometry. It was found that the activation process (G0-G1a transition) was not influenced by PGE2 over a wide range of concentrations (10(-10) to 10(-6) M), nor was the formation of IL 2 receptors inhibited. Similarly, the viability of human lymphocytes was practically unaltered. In contrast, the IL 2-dependent cell cycle event (G1a-G1b transition), which is required for proliferation, was inhibited in a dose-dependent fashion. The addition of IL 2-containing supernatants to such cultures prevented the PGE2-mediated block in the G1a phase and reconstituted a normal lymphocyte proliferation. Furthermore, lower IL 2 titers were measured in supernatants from PHA-stimulated human PBL treated with PGE2. These findings strongly suggest that PGE2 primarily exerts its inhibitory effect on lymphocyte proliferation through an inhibition of IL 2 production.

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