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Developmental Immunology
Volume 2, Issue 4, Pages 263-271

Induction of Apoptosis in Thymocytes by Prostaglandin E2 In Vivo

1Department of Experimental Medicine and Biochemical Science, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Via O. Raimondo, Rome 00173, Italy
2Department of Biology, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Via O. Raimondo, Rome 00173, Italy
3Institute of Experimental Medicine C.N.R, Viale Marx 15, Rome 00156, Italy

Copyright © 1992 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In vivo administration in mice of a synthetic analog of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) caused a selective and dramatic decrease of CD4+CD8+ double-positive, CD3/T-cell-receptor-αb10 cells in the thymus. This loss was corticosteroid-independent and not affected by Cyclosporin A. The disappearance of CD4+CD8+ thymocytes was strictly correlated with the induction of apoptosis inside the thymus as shown by morphological studies and by the induction of intracellular transglutaminase expression. Considering that PGE2 has been found to be produced by different cell populations inside the thymus, these results indicate that PGE2 may act as endogenous signals for apoptosis during T-cell differentiation.