Culture of murine T cells with immobilized (platebound) anti-CD3 antibody results in autocrine growth factor secretion in both Th1 (IL-2 producing) and Th2 (IL-4 producing) cells. Using a panel of murine T cell clones, we demonstrate that the IL-2-induced proliferation of Th1 clones is dramatically inhibited by immobilized anti-CD3 antibody, whereas that of Th2 clones is not. This unresponsiveness of Th1 clones to IL-2 is not due to decreases in IL-2R expression. Supernatants from Th1 or Th2 cell cultures fail to alter the effects of anti-CD3 on the two types of clones, suggesting that unresponsiveness induced in Th1 clones or the lack thereof in Th2 clones is not mediated by a stable cytokine(s). Accessory cells enhance the proliferation of Th1 cells exposed to low concentrations of anti-CD3, but the unresponsiveness induced by high concentrations of anti-CD3 is not prevented by accessory cells. Finally, soluble anti-CD4 antibody prevents the induction of the unresponsive state even at high concentrations of anti-CD3. These experiments demonstrate that two subsets of cloned CD4+ T cells differ in their responses to anti-CD3, and that CD4 molecules may play a critical role in regulating the outcome of receptor-mediated stimulation.

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