Fas (Apo-1/CD95), a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family, can mediate apoptosis when engaged by its ligand or by anti-Fas anti-body. Fas is expressed by cells of the immune system and by some nonlymphoid tissues. Numerous studies have suggested that the Fas pathway may play a role in the rejection of allografts. Functional, soluble forms of the Fas receptor are produced by activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells and some transformed cell lines. The purpose of this study was to determine if soluble variants of Fas are produced in the liver and to determine if blockade of the Fas pathway, by liver-derived soluble Fas, inhibits Fas-mediated apoptosis.Methods.
Liver and purified hepatocyte specimens were analyzed for Fas transcripts by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction with primers that span the transmembrane region of the molecule. Bile and cell lysates were analyzed for soluble Fas by specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Lysates were prepared from normal liver and hepatocytes and utilized to block Fas-mediated apoptosis of Jurkat cells as determined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling and flow cytometry.Results.
A variant form of Fas is abundantly expressed in normal liver and purified hepatocytes. This variant form of Fas is expressed in all normal liver specimens but only in half of the liver specimens obtained during allograft rejection. The levels of soluble Fas diminish in patients undergoing liver allograft rejection in contrast to patients with stable grafts. Importantly, a soluble form of Fas is produced in the liver by hepatocytes and can specifically inhibit Fas-mediated apoptosis.Conclusion.
These data raise the possibility that soluble Fas, produced by hepatocytes, may influence the immune response by blocking Fas-mediated apoptosis and, thus, may have a role in liver transplantation.