Objective: To investigate Fas and FasL expression in pancreatic tissues and cultured pancreatic cancer cell lines, and to assess the ability of anti- Fas antibodies to induce apoptosis. Summary Background Data: Activation of the Fas receptor by Fas-ligand (FasL) results in apoptosis, and dysregulation of this pathway may contribute to abnormal cell proliferation. Methods: Northern blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to compare Fas and FasL expression in normal and cancerous tissues. DNA 3'-OH end labeling was used to detect apoptotic cells. The effects of Fas activation on cell growth and signaling pathways were investigated in culture. Results: Pancreatic cancers exhibited increased Fas RNA levels, whereas FasL mRNA levels were similar in both groups. De- spite the colocalization of Fas and FasL in the cancer cells, an apoptotic signal was present in approximately 10% of these cells in only 2 of 16 cancer samples. Fas and FasL were coexpressed in all four cell lines, whereas Fas-associated phosphatase 1 was below the level of detection in all cell lines. Only COLO-357 cells underwent apoptosis after Fas activation. Apoptosis was associated with enhanced activation of jun kinase (JNK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). In the presence of actinomycin D, Fas antibody also induced apoptosis in the other three cell lines. Conclusions: These results suggest that pancreatic cancer cells are resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis by mechanisms excluding receptor downregulation or Fas-associated phosphatase upregulation and raise the possibility that Fas-mediated apoptosis may be dependent on the activation of the JNK/p38 MAPK pathway in these cells.
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