We examined the sensitivity of lymphocytes from different age groups to inhibition by prostaglandin E2. Phytohemagglutinin-stimulated cultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 12 healthy subjects over the age of 70 were much more sensitive to inhibition by exogenously added prostaglandin E2 than were cells from 17 young controls (ID50 ≃ 10 nM for the subjects over 70 vs. > 3 μM for the young controls). The more sensitive lymphocytes from a subject over 70 were to prostaglandin E2, the lower was his or her response to phytohemagglutinin (r = 0.75, P < 0.01). The mean responses to phytohemagglutinin of the peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the subjects over 70 were significantly depressed compared to the young controls. Addition of indomethacin, a prostaglandin synthetase inhibitor, to the cultures resulted in an increase in [3H]thymidine incorporation of 140 ± 16% in the cells of the subjects over 70 vs. a 36 ± 3% increase in the young controls (mean ± SEM, P < 0.001). The mean phytohemagglutinin response of the subjects over 70 was 40% of the control response without indomethacin. With addition of indomethacin the response of subjects over 70 rose to 72% of control. Thus, increased sensitivity to prostaglandin E2 appears to be responsible in part for the depressed mitogen response of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy subjects over 70.
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