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Pulmonary fibrosis begins with alveolitis, which progresses to destruction of lung tissue and excess collagen deposition. This process could be the result of DNA damage and a form of apoptosis. Therefore, we hypothesized that Fas ligand (FasL), which induces apoptosis in cells expressing Fas antigen (Fas), is associated with pulmonary fibrosis. We examined frozen lung tissues from seven patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) cells from 19 patients with IPF and from 17 patients with interstitial pneumonia associated with collagen vascular diseases (CVD-IP). We used five frozen lungs with normal lung parenchyma and BALF cells from 10 patients with solitary pulmonary nodule as controls. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed that FasL messenger RNA (mRNA) was expressed in BALF cells from all patients with IPF and from 15 of 16 patients with CVD-IP. FasL mRNA was not detected in BALF cells except in one of 10 controls. RT in situ PCR detected FasL mRNA in inflammatory cells in BALF from patients with IPF. Immunohistochemistry detected FasL protein in infiltrating lymphocytes and granulocytes in all of seven frozen lung tissues of IPF, but in none of five control lung tissues. Additionally, the expression of Fas appeared to be upregulated in bronchiolar and alveolar epithelial cells in IPF compared with normal lung parenchyma by immunohistochemistry. We conclude that Fas and FasL were upregulated in fibrosing lung diseases and may associate with DNA damage or apoptosis of bronchiolar and alveolar epithelial cells in this disorder.