Mature CD4+ helper T lymphocytes have been categorized into two major functional phenotypes, TH1 and TH2, which produce distinct arrays of lymphokines and which are thought to arise from a pluripotential precursor cell termed TH0. Clonal anergy can be induced in TH1 clones by stimulating via the T cell receptor (TCR) complex in the absence of a costimulator molecule; however, anergy has been difficult to demonstrate in TH2 clones. We show here that treatment of cloned TH0 lines with anergizing stimuli results in the selective loss of TH1 characteristics and retention of a TH2 phenotype. Treated cells exhibit a substantial reduction in interleukin 2 (IL-2) production and antigen-specific cytolytic activity, but retain comparable IL-4 and IL-5 production in response to restimulation via the TCR complex. TH0 clones exposed to anergizing stimuli also increase in size, thus morphologically resembling TH2 cells. The signaling characteristics of these cells also are altered, in that they exhibit an elevated basal level of intracellular free calcium which fails to increase significantly with subsequent restimulation, reminiscent of the signaling characteristics of TH2 cells. "Anergized" TH0 clones thus share several functional, morphologic, and physiologic properties with cells of the TH2 phenotype, suggesting that TH2 cells may arise when TH0 cells are stimulated via the TCR complex in the absence of a putative costimulator molecule.

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