Death of renal cells often occurs during the acute and resolution phases of some forms of glomerulonephritis. The apoptotic Fas protein belongs to a recently described family of cytokine receptors with similarities to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptors, and may contribute to the necrobiology of renal cells. Fas transduces a signal for apoptosis in sensitive cells after binding by specific antibodies or following contact with natural Fas ligand. We have studied Fas in cultured human mesangial cells. Cytoflurography demonstrated Fas expression on the surface of human mesangial cells that was increased by stimulation with interferon gamma (IFNγ). Agonistic anti-human Fas antibodies were cytotoxic to these cells. Cytotoxicity was time- and dose-dependent, and was modulated by pre-stimulation of the mesangial cells with IFNγ and/or by co-treatment with actinomycin-D. Mesangial cell death following exposure to anti-Fas antibodies has features consistent with apoptosis, such as internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, nuclear shrinkage and condensation, and decreased DNA content. These data suggest that Fas and its ligand could play a mechanistic role in human glomerular cell injury.
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