Calcium ionophores such as ionomycin (IONO), CD3 antibody (CD3), or CD28 antibody (CD28) have been shown to stimulate T cells in a quite different fashion. However, each stimulator induces full activation of resting T cells in the presence of phorbol myristate acetate. Human T cells were activated with PMA+CD3, PMA+IONO, or PMA+CD28 and the inhibitory effects of dexamethasone (DEX) and cyclosporine were examined on [3H]-TdR incorporation, IL-2 production, and IL-2 receptor expression. Three inhibition patterns emerged: PMA+CD3 stimulation was DEX-sensitive and CsA-sensitive, PMA+IONO stimulation was CsA- sensitive but DEX-resistant, PMA+CD28 stimulation was DEX-sensitive but CsA-resistant. Although the degree of inhibition by DEX and CsA was different in [3H] TdR incorporation, IL-2 production, and IL-2 receptor expression assays, the inhibitory pattern of these drugs was similar in each of the assays, indicating that human T cell activation is differentially regulated by DEX and CsA depending on the stimulator.
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