Constitutive expression of Fas (Apo-1/CD95) ligand on multiple myeloma cells: a potential mechanism of tumor-induced suppression of immune surveillance

Blood. 1997 Jul 1;90(1):12-20.


The Fas (Apo-1/CD95) ligand (FasL) plays a central role in the elimination of target cells by effector T lymphocytes and in the suppression of cellular immune responses against nonmalignant and malignant cells. We show the expression of FasL on the surface of neoplastic plasma cells. We provide evidence that the FasL is functionally active because five of five neoplastic plasma cell lines tested killed CEM-C7H2 T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells. The effect was mediated via the Fas (Apo-1/CD95) receptor molecule because blocking of Fas on the target cells or the FasL on the tumor cells by receptor- and ligand-specific monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs), respectively, protected T cells from being killed by myeloma cells. In addition, overexpression of the cowpox virus protein CrmA, a molecule with inhibitory potential on caspase-1 and caspase-8, specifically involved in Fas-induced signaling, protected T cells from being destroyed by the neoplastic cells or the agonistic anti-Fas MoAb. The potential of the malignant plasma cells to extinguish target T cells was independent of their own sensitivity to the agonistic anti-Fas MoAb, and FasL-positive (FasL+) CEM-C7H2 T cells were incapable of killing myeloma cells. Our results suggest that tumor cell-induced suppression of the immune system may be exerted via the FasL active on malignant plasma cells. Furthermore, loss of Fas expression or insensitivity to the agonistic anti-Fas MoAb do not seem to be prerequisites for myeloma cells to defeat T cells via Fas/FasL interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Surveillance*
  • Immunosuppression*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Escape
  • fas Receptor / biosynthesis
  • fas Receptor / immunology


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