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J Lab Clin Med. 1998 Nov;132(5):404-13.

Expression and function of Fas and Fas ligand on peripheral blood lymphocytes in normal subjects.

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The First Department of Internal Medicine, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Nagasaki City, Japan.


We investigated the expression and function of Fas and Fas ligand (FasL) on peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). The cells were stimulated with various cytokines or 12-0-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (PMA) plus ionomycin. About 30% of unstimulated PBLs expressed Fas, and the expression was augmented by interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), IL-2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), or PMA plus ionomycin. Although only minimal FasL expression was detected on unstimulated PBLs, FasL expression was markedly induced by IL-2 or PMA plus ionomycin, suggesting that Fas and FasL were both expressed on IL-2-stimulated or PMA-plus-ionomycin-stimulated PBLs. Although IL-2-stimulated or PMA-plus-ionomycin-stimulated PBLs were positive for both Fas and FasL, no significant increase in apoptosis was demonstrated in these activated PBLs. In addition, treatment of PBLs with IL-2 or PMA plus ionomycin did not change anti-Fas-induced apoptosis, although these activated PBLs expressed Fas strongly when compared with unstimulated PBLs. Only IL-2-stimulated or PMA-plus-ionomycin-stimulated PBLs killed Fas+ target cells efficiently via the interaction of Fas on target cells with FasL of PBLs. Bcl-2 was constitutively expressed on unstimulated PBLs, but its expression was significantly augmented by IL-2 or PMA plus ionomycin. The expression of Bax was clearly induced only on IL-2-stimulated or PMA-plus-ionomycin-stimulated PBLs and that of other Bcl-2 family proteins such as Bcl-x and Bad could not be detected on human PBLs, including IL-2-stimulated or PMA-plus-ionomycin-stimulated PBLs. Our results suggest that PBLs activated by IL-2 or PMA plus ionomycin express both Fas and FasL and that they kill Fas+ target cells by using FasL on the surface. The resistance of these activated PBLs to Fas-mediated apoptosis may be due to the augmented Bcl-2 expression or the presence of Bcl-2:Bax heterodimers on these cells.

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