Effects of the microenvironment on Fas/Fas ligand interactions and their implications for UV-induced immune suppression

Esther Amalia Guzman Ramirez, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in humans. Although highly treatable, non-melanoma skin cancer is commonly followed by other non-cutaneous malignancies. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) acts as both tumor initiator and promoter, and also results in the suppression of specific immune responses. The systemic suppression of immune responses is initiated by DNA damage, which promotes IL-10 production, an important cytokine as anti-IL-10 can abrogate the suppression, and upregulates the pro-apoptotic proteins Fas and Fas ligand (FasL). FasL is a critical factor for UV-induced immune suppression, and the suppressor cell induced by UV expresses FasL. We hypothesized that the microenvironment affects Fas/FasL interactions, and that these interactions are important to the phenomenon of UV induced immune suppression. To determine the effects of the interaction of FasL and IL-10, splenocytes isolated from C57Bl/6 mice were cultured in the presence or absence of IL-10 post-mitogenic activation. We determined that IL-10 protects from Fas-mediated apoptosis by lowering Fas sensitivity and lowering the levels of either Fas or FasL. This protection is stronger when IL-10 is given immediately after mitogenic activation, and does not increase any of the inhibitors of apoptosis studied. In vivo, splenocytes from UV-irradiated mice are resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis and present very high levels of IL-10, lowered Fas sensitivity and lowered caspase cleavage despite higher expression of Fas and FasL than non-irradiated mice. UV-induced immune suppression affects female mice preferentially, which led us to look at prolactin as a possible component of this suppression since this hormone has also been associated with increased skin carcinogenesis. The interaction of FasL and prolactin results in suppression of the delayed type hypersensitivity response to Candida albicans. This lack of response depends on FasL as is not seen in gld mice. Similar to UV-induced immune suppression, the suppression is caused by a Th2 deviation, and correlates with a significant increase in Fas expression. In the presence of UV, the effects of prolactin seemed to be protective, and UV actually restores the DTH response. Taken together, these observations suggest that the microenvironment dictates the outcome of the interaction of FasL with Fas going from promoting apoptosis to preventing apoptosis or mediating a Th2 deviation and suppression of a Th1 response.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Guzman Ramirez, Esther Amalia, "Effects of the microenvironment on Fas/Fas ligand interactions and their implications for UV-induced immune suppression" (2004). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3115909.