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Lancet. 1996 Sep 14;348(9029):719-23.

Clinical, immunological, and pathological consequences of Fas-deficient conditions.

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INSERUM U429 Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.



The surface molecule named Fas/CD95, which is expressed on activated lymphocytes, can trigger cell death following interaction with its ligand (Fas L). This Fas-Fas-L interaction is thought to be a major regulatory mechanism for controlling the life span of peripheral lymphocytes, and therefore autoimmunity.


We assessed clinical, immunological and pathological features in three children who inherited mutations of the Fas-encoding gene. One infant had a genomic homozygous deletion, while two siblings had a heterozygous mutation in the fas gene.


The patient with a complete lack of Fas protein expression had prenatal onset of massive lymphoproliferation, which involved the spleen, the liver, and the intrathoracic and abdominal lymph nodes. Lymphoproliferation mainly involved T cells negative for the CD4 and CD8 receptors. These cells, which had a high mitotic index, were essentially found in the T cell zones of lymphoid organs. Active cell division was indicated by a rapid rise in the lymphocyte count following a chemotherapy-induced reduction in the lymphocyte burden. Despite the total Fas protein deficiency, limited autoimmunity was found in this child at age 1 year. A lymphoproliferative syndrome with similar characteristics--but less intense than in the patient with complete Fas deficiency--also occurred from a young age in the siblings with a fas gene mutation on one allele only. One sibling developed neutropoenia, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, and severe recurrent thrombocytopoenia.


Fas-deficiency causes a non-malignant syndrome characterised by the accumulation of dividing lymphocytes. Severity of disease is probably related to the degree of functional Fas deficiency. Heterozygous fas gene mutations, like homozygous deletions, can also be expressed in various cells and tissues and may predispose towards autoimmune disorders. Fas deficiency should be considered in children with enlarged peripheral lymphoid organs and hyperimmunoglobulinaemia, and sometimes the occurrence of autoimmune manifestations towards blood cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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