Lymphocyte apoptosis induced by Fas ligand- expressing ovarian carcinoma cells. Implications for altered expression of T cell receptor in tumor-associated lymphocytes

J Clin Invest. 1998 Jun 1;101(11):2579-88. doi: 10.1172/JCI1518.


We have recently reported that tumor-associated lymphocytes obtained from ascitic fluids of women with ovarian carcinoma (OvCA) demonstrate a marked decrease in expression of cytoplasmic CD3-zeta and surface CD3-epsilon chains, which is associated with altered function of T cell receptor (TcR). We now demonstrate that OvCAs in situ and in culture express functional Fas ligand (FasL), capable of triggering an intrinsic cell death program in Fas-expressing T cells. The possibility of a relationship between cell death and altered expression of TcR was examined. The data indicate that alterations in expression of CD3-zeta and CD3-epsilon chains in T cells coincubated with OvCA are related to tumor-induced apoptosis, as the addition of pan-caspase inhibitors, DEVD-cho or YVAD-cho, prevents both the in vitro induction of T cell death by OvCA cells and the changes in the level of expression of CD3-zeta and CD3-epsilon chains. In the presence of Fas-Fc fusion protein, but not Fc-control protein, the loss in expression of CD3-zeta and CD3-epsilon chains induced in T cells by FasL+ OvCA cells was prevented. These results suggest that the loss in expression of CD3-zeta and CD3-epsilon chains in T lymphocytes interacting with OvCA cells is associated with apoptosis mediated by FasL-expressing tumor cells.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apoptosis*
  • CD3 Complex / analysis*
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / chemistry
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • fas Receptor / analysis


  • CD3 Complex
  • FASLG protein, human
  • Fas Ligand Protein
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • fas Receptor