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1 June 2002 Differential Regulation and Function of the Fas/Fas Ligand System in Human Trophoblast Cells
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Trophoblast rejection, which is characterized by increased apoptosis, is mediated by T helper (Th)-1, or proinflammatory, cytokines, whereas Th-2, or anti-inflammatory, cytokines confer immune protection and facilitate implantation. We investigated the role of both types of cytokines on the expression and function of the Fas/Fas ligand (FasL) apoptotic pathway in trophoblast cells. First-trimester human trophoblast primary-culture cells as well as A3 and HTR/8 trophoblast cell lines were treated with proinflammatory cytokines such as interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and with the anti-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-10. Sensitivity to Fas-mediated apoptosis was measured using an activating anti-Fas monoclonal antibody. Cell viability was evaluated using the MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) and CellTiter 96 assay. Fas/FasL mRNA and protein expression levels were determined using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot analysis, respectively. Trophoblast cells normally express FasL, but low levels of Fas, and they are resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis. IFN-γ and TNFα promote Fas expression and sensitivity, whereas IL-6 and IL-10 increase the resistance of trophoblast cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis. Furthermore, IL-10 treatment activates FLICE-like inhibitory protein (FLIP), a downstream inhibitor of Fas apoptotic signaling. Although trophoblast cells express Fas, susceptibility to Fas does not necessarily correlate with its expression. In this study, we demonstrate that Th-2 cytokines increase the resistance of trophoblast cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis either by inhibiting Fas expression or by inducing FLIP activation. This “trophoblast-cytokine-Fas/FasL triad” determines the ability of the Fas/FasL system to regulate trophoblast viability and, consequently, the success or failure of pregnancy.

Sarit Aschkenazi, Shawn Straszewski, Karlijn M. A. Verwer, Harald Foellmer, Thomas Rutherford, and Gil Mor "Differential Regulation and Function of the Fas/Fas Ligand System in Human Trophoblast Cells," Biology of Reproduction 66(6), 1853-1861, (1 June 2002).
Received: 14 August 2001; Accepted: 1 January 2002; Published: 1 June 2002

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