The widely held view that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) only down-regulates immune function has been challenged by recent data from this and other laboratories. In the case of B lymphocytes, PGE2 has potent regulatory effects on activation and immunoglobulin class switching. Furthermore, the maturation stage at which a B cell encounters PGE2 can determine whether the lymphocyte continues along its differentiative path or is terminated by apoptosis. Our studies have combined the use of murine B lymphomas and normal B lymphocytes to unravel the mechanisms by which PGE2 affects B cells. Here we describe the strategies and approaches that have led to a new understanding of PGE2 regulation of immunity. These models may be extended to the study of other prostanoids and to human B lymphocytes.
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