The effect of K+ channel-blocking agents, tetraethylammonium (TEA) and 4-aminopyridine (4AP), on the responses of cloned murine helper and cytolytic T lymphocytes stimulated with mitogen, anti-T cell receptor monoclonal antibody, or interleukin 2 was examined. The addition of TEA and 4AP reduced [3H]thymidine incorporation and lymphokine production to levels observed in unstimulated cells. However, thymidine incorporation by the tumor cell lines P-815 and SP2/0, which replicate autonomously, also was inhibited by these drugs. Treatment of cloned murine helper T lymphocyte, L2, with TEA appeared to inhibit uptake of [3H]thymidine and [3H]phenylalanine after stimulation with interleukin 2. These results suggest that the inhibitory effects of the K+ channel-blocking agents TEA and 4AP may not be specific for the sequence of events that are initiated by activation of T lymphocytes through the antigen receptor. Instead, the observed inhibitory effects by these agents may result from inhibition of transport of thymidine, amino acids, and other essential metabolites across the cell membrane.

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