Proliferation of T lymphocytes in response to interleukin 2 varies with their state of activation

J. D. Ashwell, R. J. Robb, T. R. Malek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The interleukin 2 (IL 2) receptor on T lymphocytes can be upregulated by a variety of stimuli including antigen, lectin, and IL 2 itself. In this report, the direct binding of radiolabeled IL 2 and a quantitative bioassay of T cell responsiveness to IL 2 were used to determine the biological significance of upregulation of the murine IL 2 receptor. Antigen and lectin, and to a lesser extent IL 2, were found to cause an increase in the expression of the high affinity form of the IL 2 receptor on both a T cell clone and concanavalin A-induced T cell blasts. A 2-day stimulation with antigen resulted in an increase in the sensitivity of the T cell clone to IL 2, whereas activation with IL 2 caused a decrease in the sensitivity of these cells to subsequent stimulation with IL 2. Comparison of the direct binding and the functional data revealed that IL 2-preactivated T cells required a greater number of occupied high affinity IL 2 receptors to achieve a given fractional response than did unactivated T cells. These observations suggest that the sensitivity with which a T cell responds to IL 2 is not determined solely by the number of high affinity IL 2 receptors it bears.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2572-2578
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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