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J Immunol. 2000 Mar 15;164(6):2897-904.

TRAIL (Apo2 ligand) and TWEAK (Apo3 ligand) mediate CD4+ T cell killing of antigen-presenting macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Michigan, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ann Arbor MI 48109, USA.


The human marrow produces approximately 1010 monocytes daily, and this production must be balanced by a similar rate of destruction. Monocytes/macrophages can undergo apoptosis after activating CD4+ T cells, suggesting one mechanism that may contribute to macrophage homeostasis. Previous reports indicate that Fas-Fas ligand interactions are the principle molecules mediating this response. However, D10, an Iak-restricted cloned Th2 line, will similarly induce apoptosis in Ag-presenting macrophages, and D10 cells lack Fas ligand. To confirm that D10 cells kill macrophages through Fas-independent pathways, D10 cells were shown to kill MRL lpr/lpr (Iak) macrophages in an Ag-dependent fashion, indicating additional mechanisms. Recent reports demonstrate that TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), interacting with Apo2, and TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK), interacting with Apo3, will induce apoptosis in some cells. Using Abs to TRAIL and an Apo3-IgG Fc fusion protein, we demonstrated that D10 cells express both TRAIL and TWEAK. The Apo3 fusion protein, but not human IgG, inhibited D10-induced macrophage apoptosis, as did anti-TRAIL. Further studies demonstrated that AE7, a cloned Th1 line, and splenic T cells express TWEAK, TRAIL, and Fas ligand, and inhibiting these molecules also inhibited macrophage killing. These results indicate that D10 cells induce macrophage apoptosis through TRAIL- and TWEAK-dependent pathways. Because normal T cells also express these molecules, these results support the concept that T cells have multiple pathways by which to induce macrophage apoptosis. These pathways may be important in immune processes such as macrophage homeostasis as well as in down-regulation of immune responses and elimination of macrophages infected with intracellular organisms.

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