Elimination of activated T and B cells by Fas-dependent apoptosis may contribute to the maintenance of peripheral tolerance. CD40 ligation was recently shown to up-regulate Fas expression and enhance susceptibility to Fas-mediated apoptosis in mouse splenic B cells. In the present study, we have investigated the regulation of Fas expression and Fas-triggered apoptotis in mouse peritoneal B-1 cells. B-1 cells expressed a similar level of CD40 as that on B-2 cells, and proliferated in response to a soluble CD40 ligand (CD40L)-CD8α chimeric protein, suggesting that CD40 on B-1 cells is functional. In contrast to B-2 cells, B-1 cells expressed Fas at only low levels in response to CD40L-CD8α alone or CD40L-CD8α+interleukin-4, and were resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis following these treatments. While Fas expression could be induced in B-1 cells to a comparable level as that in B-2 cells by cross-linking CD40L-CD8α with an anti-CD8α antibody, the sensitivity to Fas-mediated apoptosis in B-1 cells was significantly reduced compared with B2 cells. These results suggest that peritoneal B-1 cells from normal mice have a lower susceptibility to Fas-mediated apoptosis and may distinguish B-1 from B-2 cells. Similarly, B-1 cells from the peritoneal cavity and spleen of autoimmune-prone NZB mice exhibited reduced susceptibility to Fas-mediated apoptosis relative to their B-2 counterparts. NZB splenic B-1 cells, however, were more susceptible to Fas-mediated apoptosis than NZB peritoneal B-1 cells. The results presented here raise the possibility that the reduced susceptibility to Fas-triggered apoptosis in B-1 cells might be an accelerating factor for the autoantibody production in NZB mice.
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