The recently identified Fas antigen (Ag) is a cell surface molecule that can mediate apoptosis. The cytoplasmic product of proto-oncogene bcl-2 has been shown to prolong the cellular survival by inhibiting apoptosis. To elucidate the physiologic significance of expression of both molecules, we examined the expression of Fas Ag and bcl-2 on blood leukocyte populations and evaluated their sensitivity to the cytolytic action of anti-Fas antibody. Although Fas Ag was expressed on a fraction of lymphocytes, both neutrophils and monocytes expressed Fas Ag constitutively. In contrast, there was marked difference among these leukocytes regarding bcl-2 expression. Lymphocytes expressed bcl-2 intensely, but monocytes showed weaker bcl-2 expression, and neutrophils were essentially absent for bcl-2 expression. Seemingly reflecting this lack of bcl-2-expression, neutrophils more easily underwent apoptotic cell death in vitro as compared with monocytes and lymphocytes. We showed that anti-Fas antibody affectively accelerated apoptotic cell death in neutrophils. However, the apoptosis-inducing effect of anti-Fas antibody was minimal on monocytes, and lymphocytes were resistant to this antibody. These results suggest that anti-Fas- mediated cell death may, in part, be determined by bcl-2 expression status in Fas+ lymphoid and hematopoietic cells.

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