PGE2 is known to inhibit IL-2 and IFN-gamma production from Th cells and is widely viewed as a general immunosuppressant. However, PGE2 was found not to inhibit IL-4 production from Th2 clones, and IL-5 production from these clones was slightly enhanced. The same results were obtained with short term T cell lines, which indicates that the lack of inhibition of IL-4 and IL-5 production by PGE2 is a general phenomenon. PGE2 functions by increasing cAMP levels through activation of adenylate cyclase. Despite its failure to inhibit lymphokine release, PGE2 was capable of increasing cAMP levels in Th2 cells, and forskolin, a direct activator of adenylate cyclase, also did not inhibit IL-4 or IL-5 production. These data indicate that the failure of PGE2 to inhibit IL-4 and IL-5 production was not due to an inability of PGE2 to induce an increase in intracellular cAMP, and suggested instead that the expression of IL-4 and IL-5 in Th2 cells is insensitive to elevated cAMP levels. When Th0 clones were examined, PGE2 was again found to differentially affect IL-2 and IL-4 production in three of five clones tested. In two additional Th0 clones, both IL-2 and IL-4 production were inhibited. These data suggest that lymphokine production may be regulated on two different levels. First, Th1- and Th2-associated lymphokines may be differentially sensitive to intracellular signals such as cAMP. Second, T cell subsets may exist, including subsets of Th0 cells, with different signaling pathways. In addition, our data suggest that PGE2 may play an important role in regulating the development of a response dominated by Th1- or Th2-associated lymphokines.

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