FAS-ligand regulates differential activation-induced cell death of human T-helper 1 and 17 cells in healthy donors and multiple sclerosis patients

M. T. Cencioni, S. Santini, G. Ruocco, G. Borsellino, M. De Bardi, M. G. Grasso, S. Ruggieri, C. Gasperini, D. Centonze, D. Barilá, L. Battistini, E. Volpe

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Functionally distinct T-helper (Th) subsets orchestrate immune responses. Maintenance of homeostasis through the tight control of inflammatory Th cells is crucial to avoid autoimmune inflammation. Activation-Induced Cell Death (AICD) regulates homeostasis of T cells, and it has never been investigated in human Th cells. We generated stable clones of inflammatory Th subsets involved in autoimmune diseases, such as Th1, Th17 and Th1/17 cells, from healthy donors (HD) and multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and we measured AICD. We find that human Th1 cells are sensitive, whereas Th17 and Th1/17 are resistant, to AICD. In particular, Th1 cells express high level of FAS-ligand (FASL), which interacts with FAS and leads to caspases' cleavage and ultimately to cell death. In contrast, low FASL expression in Th17 and Th1/17 cells blunts caspase 8 activation and thus reduces cell death. Interestingly, Th cells obtained from healthy individuals and MS patients behave similarly, suggesting that this mechanism could explain the persistence of inflammatory IL-17-producing cells in autoimmune diseases, such as MS, where their generation is particularly substantial.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research

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