There is increasing evidence for the role of the Fas/Fas ligand interaction in the immunoregulation of T-cells. We studied the expression of the Fas ligand (FasL) in activated peripheral T-cells in vitro, and its relation to autonomous cell death by flow cytometry. Following the stimulation of lymph node T-cells with anti-CD3 and rIL2, the mRNA level of FasL increased more than four times during the first 2 days over the level before stimulation. The surface expression of FasL was observed on 27% of the population at day 2 after stimulation and increased to approximately 50% at day 3. Kinetic analysis by flow cytometry, however, indicated that all T-blasts transformed during activation did not express FasL. FasL expression became evident simultaneously with the termination of cell expansion. Since cells remained viable (> 90%) at day 3 as judged by trypan blue-exclusion, cell membranes expressing FasL were supposed to be still intact. Concomitantly with FasL-expression, spontaneous DNA fragmentation was observed. These observations support the idea that autonomous Fas/FasL interaction mediates apoptosis in activated peripheral T-cells as demonstrated in T-cell hybridoma or established T-cells.
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