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Eur J Immunol. 1997 Aug;27(8):1858-64.

Th1 and Th2 subsets equally undergo Fas-dependent and -independent activation-induced cell death.

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Division of Molecular Genetics, Center for Biomedical Science, Chiba University School of Medicine, Japan.


Stimulation of previously activated T cells results in apoptosis, termed activation-induced cell death (AICD). Recent analysis revealed that the Fas/Fas ligand (FasL) interaction is predominantly involved in AICD of T cells. Furthermore, based on the analysis of various T cell clones and lines, it has been reported that FasL is expressed mainly in Th1 but not in Th2 cells. However, the exact expression pattern of FasL and its function in normal activated T cells has not been determined. In the present study, by utilizing completely differentiated Th1 and Th2 cell populations obtained from ovalbumin-specific T cell receptor (TCR)-transgenic mice, the FasL expression on Th1 and Th2 was determined. Furthermore, involvement of Fas-FasL interaction in AICD of Th1 and Th2 cells was analyzed by two approaches: one was the inhibition of AICD by anti-FasL monoclonal antibodies, and the other AICD of Th1/Th2 subsets from TCR-transgenic mice backcrossed to lpr mice. We demonstrated that Th2 cells express FasL on the cell surface at a level similar to that expressed by Th1 cells, and that both subsets were equally susceptible to the Fas-mediated AICD. These observations suggest not only that the expression of FasL is not always correlated with Th subsets as defined by the cytokine-producing profile, but also that the responses of both Th1 and Th2 subsets are regulated by Fas-mediated AICD. Finally, analysis of the kinetics of AICD revealed a novel Fas/FasL-independent pathway in its initial stage. These findings revealed the precise function of Fas/FasL-mediated as well as Fas/FasL-independent AICD in the regulation of helper T cell responses.

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