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Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Sep;6(9):3560-4.

Frequency of apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes induced by fas counterattack in human colorectal carcinoma and its correlation with prognosis.

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Department of Surgery II, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan.


We investigated apoptosis in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) obtained from 41 colorectal carcinomas by in situ nick translation (ISNT). When the ISNT labeling index (LI) was determined as the number of positive nuclei per 1000 nuclei of TIL in tissue sections, the median LI was 12.0 (range, 2-30). The ISNT LI of colorectal carcinoma with lymph node metastasis was higher than that of colorectal carcinoma without metastasis. The cases with a high LI of 212.0 had a significantly poorer prognosis than those with a low LI. We also confirmed immunohistochemically that a part of the TILs expressed Fas using the sections adjacent to what contained abundant ISNT-positive TILs. Moreover, Fas ligand (FasL) expression was detected on the cell surface as well as the cytoplasm of colorectal cancer cells in 61% of cases. Apoptosis in TILs was consistently seen more frequently in FasL-positive cases than in FasL-negative ones. These findings indicate that the FasL expressed in colorectal carcinoma cells may kill the Fas-positive immune effective TILs by means of a Fas-FasL system termed Fas counterattack. This tumor immune evasion induced by FasL may therefore affect the malignant potential of human colorectal carcinoma.

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