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Fas receptor counterattack against tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in vivo as a mechanism of immune escape in gastric carcinoma


We investigated the presence and functional status of surface expression of the Fas receptor (FasR) and its ligand (FasL) in tumor and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) in gastric carcinoma (n=36) from the primary locus, metastatic gastric carcinoma (n=30) from malignant ascites, and benign gastric mucosa (n=30) for the control. The quantitative analysis was based on the percentage of positive cells by a flow cytometry. The results showed that the membrane-bound FasL molecule was constitutively expressed in primary and metastatic gastric carcinomas as well as normal gastric epithelium in nearly all the patients. In particular, metastatic carcinoma proved to aberrantly express the FasL molecule. On the other hand, FasR expression ranged from minimal or absent in primary and metastatic gastric carcinomas, suggesting that the carcinoma might be rendered less sensitive toward FasR-induced killing. Apoptotic tumor cells detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP nick and labeling (TUNEL) were barely identified in primary and metastatic carcinomas. In the analysis of TIL, the expression of FasR and FasL, and apoptotic TIL could not usually be observed in primary gastric carcinoma. In metastatic carcinoma, however, there was significant overexpression of FasR and FasL in immune TIL associated with a higher frequency of apoptotic cell death detected by TUNEL. The results suggest that metastatic carcinoma expressing FasL, but not FasL+ primary carcinoma, might evade the immune attack by apoptotic depletion of activated TIL through the FasR/FasL systems. These results provide the direct and quantitative evidence of FasR counterattacks and/or paracrine fratricides as a mechanism of tumor-immune escape in vivo in human cancer.

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Received: 29 March 2000 / Accepted: 30 June 2000

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Koyama, S., Koike, N. & Adachi, S. Fas receptor counterattack against tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in vivo as a mechanism of immune escape in gastric carcinoma. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 127, 20–26 (2001).

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  • Key words Fas receptor
  • Fas ligand
  • Immune privilege
  • Apoptosis
  • Gastric carcinoma