The Fas/Fas ligand system and cancer: immune privilege and apoptosis

Mol Biotechnol. 2003 Sep;25(1):19-30. doi: 10.1385/MB:25:1:19.


The Fas/FasL system has been suggested to play an important role in the establishment of immune privilege status for tumors by inducing Fas-mediated apoptosis in tumor-specific lymphocytes. However, the role of cell-surface expressed FasL in tumor cell protection has recently become controversial. Our laboratory has focused on the study of the role of the Fas/FasL system in the normal tissue remodeling of the female reproductive tract and in immune-privileged organs. Our studies have demonstrated a connection between sex hormones and the regulation of the Fas/FasL pathway in immune and reproductive cells. More recently, we have investigated the resistance of tumor cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis. We have also characterized a new form of FasL, different from the classical membranal form, which is secreted by ovarian cancer cells. In this review we describe the main techniques used in these studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blotting, Western / methods
  • Cell Survival
  • Culture Techniques / methods
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Immunologic Surveillance / immunology
  • Immunologic Surveillance / physiology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / isolation & purification
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Escape / immunology
  • Tumor Escape / physiology
  • fas Receptor / immunology
  • fas Receptor / metabolism
  • fas Receptor / physiology*


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