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Br J Cancer. 1997;76(2):175-9.

Fas receptor is expressed in human lung squamous cell carcinomas, whereas bcl-2 and apoptosis are not pronounced: a preliminary report.

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Department of Pathology II, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.


We report a pilot study on the Fas receptor (APO-1, CD95) in vivo in 15 human squamous cell (non-small) carcinomas and ten normal bronchial specimens. The principal aim was to investigate whether the so-called death receptor, Fas, is present in these tumours. Ligation of Fas promptly induces apoptosis, particularly in T Jurkat cells in vitro, and expression of Fas on human cancer would thus theoretically be of great interest. The immunoreactivity for the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 was also investigated, and the degree of apoptosis was evaluated by TdT dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) and conventional morphological criteria. Fas was present in all initial tumours but absent in control tissue, that is in the potential precursor cells of bronchial epithelium (P = 0.001). Fas was not detectable after radiotherapy (P = 0.03). We propose that radiotherapy induces an early selection of tumour cells rather than a down-regulation of Fas. Both Bcl-2 and apoptosis (TUNEL) were generally expressed at a modest level. In agreement with other studies, we did not find any significant correlation between Bcl-2 and prognosis, or between Bcl-2 and TUNEL. Hence, in this preliminary report, we have demonstrated Fas receptor in human squamous cell carcinomas in vivo. This is a novel finding, and the apparent absence of Fas after radiotherapy may have important therapeutic implications.

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