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J Autoimmun. 2012 Feb;38(1):29-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2011.11.015. Epub 2011 Dec 24.

FAS/FAS-L dependent killing of activated human monocytes and macrophages by CD4+CD25- responder T cells, but not CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells.

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Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology of Inflammation, Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammatory Disease, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, UK.


Conclusive resolution of an immune response is critical for the prevention of autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. We report that following co-culture with autologous CD4+CD25- responder T cells, human CD14+ monocytes and monocyte-derived macrophages become activated but also significantly more prone to apoptosis than monocytes/macrophages cultured alone. In contrast, in the presence of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), monocytes and macrophages survive whilst adopting an anti-inflammatory phenotype. The induction of monocyte death requires responder T cell activation and cell-contact between responder T cells and monocytes. We demonstrate a critical role for FAS/FAS-L ligation in responder T cell-induced monocyte killing since responder T cells, but not Tregs, upregulate FAS-ligand (FAS-L) mRNA, and induce FAS expression on monocytes. Furthermore, responder T cell-induced monocyte apoptosis is blocked by neutralising FAS/FAS-L interaction, and is not observed when monocytes from an autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) patient with complete FAS-deficiency are used as target cells. Finally, we show that responder T cell-induced killing of monocytes is impaired in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our data suggest that resolution of inflammation in the course of a healthy immune response is aided by the unperturbed killing of monocytes with inflammatory potential by responder T cells and the induction of longer-lived, Treg-induced, anti-inflammatory monocytes.

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