Human pancreatic cancer cells express non-functional Fas receptors and counterattack lymphocytes by expressing Fas ligand; a potential mechanism for immune escape

Int J Oncol. 2001 Jan;18(1):33-9.


The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and functional status of Fas ligand (FasL) and its receptor (Fas) in human pancreatic cancers. Using RT-PCR and Western blotting, Fas and FasL were expressed in seven surgically resected pancreatic cancer specimens and five cell lines; Capan-1, AsPC-1, BxPC-3, PANC-1, and MIA PaCa-2. In the resected specimens, pancreatic cancer cells induced apoptosis in the surrounding lymphoid cells. In coculture experiments of pancreatic cancer and Jurkat T cells, 50% of Jurkat T cells underwent apoptosis after 2 days, however, almost all pancreatic cancer cells remained viable. In addition, by testing Fas function using anti-Fas antibody (CH11), all cell lines were resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis except Capan-1 cells which showed sensitivity similar to that of Jurkat T cells. These results suggest that pancreatic cancer cells evade immune surveillance by expression of FasL and non-functioning Fas that allow them to activated T-cells. These tumor escape mechanisms may contribute to the rapid fatal course of pancreatic cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Death
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Escape
  • fas Receptor / genetics
  • fas Receptor / metabolism*


  • FASLG protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • fas Receptor