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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1992 Apr 15;650:115-20.

Glucocorticoids activate a suicide program in mature T lymphocytes: protective action of interleukin-2.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.


Viability of T cell blasts obtained by concanavalin A stimulation of mouse spleen cells markedly decreases when these cells are exposed to glucocorticoid hormones in the absence of interleukin-2. The mechanism underlying the lysis of the mature lymphocytes seems to correspond to the apoptotic type of cell death inasmuch as an early degradation of DNA into oligonucleosome-length fragments is observed. Moreover, glucocorticoid-induced DNA fragmentation is delayed in the presence of an inhibitor of protein synthesis. Induction of the cell death program by glucocorticoids is most likely mediated through the interaction with a specific glucocorticoid receptor as suggested by the structure-activity relationship of the various steroids tested. Interestingly, the presence of a saturating dose of IL-2 during the treatment of concanavalin A blasts with glucocorticoids totally abolished DNA fragmentation and cell lysis.

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