Th1 CD4+ lymphocytes delete activated macrophages through the Fas/APO-1 antigen pathway
The Fas/APO-1 cytotoxic pathway plays an important role in the regulation of peripheral immunity. Recent evidence indicates that this regulatory function operates through deletion of activated T and B lymphocytes by CD4+ T cells expressing the Fas ligand. Because macrophages play a key role in peripheral immunity, we asked whether Fas was involved in T-cell-macrophage interactions. Two-color flow cytometry revealed that Fas receptor (FasR) was expressed on resting murine peritoneal macrophages. FasR expression was upregulated after activation of macrophages with cytokines or lipopolysaccharide, although only tumor necrosis factor-alpha rendered macrophages sensitive to anti-FasR antibody-mediated death. To determine the consequence of antigen presentation by macrophages to CD4+ T cells, macrophages were pulsed with antigen and then incubated with either Th1 or Th2 cell lines or clones. Th1, but not Th2, T cells induced lysis of 60-80% of normal macrophages, whereas macrophages obtained from mice with mutations in the FasR were totally resistant to Th1-mediated cytotoxicity. Macrophage cytotoxicity depended upon specific antigen recognition by T cells and was major histocompatibility complex restricted. These findings indicate that, in addition to deletion of activated lymphocytes, Fas plays an important role in deletion of activated macrophages after antigen presentation to Th1 CD4+ T cells. Failure to delete macrophages that constitutively present self-antigens may contribute to the expression of autoimmunity in mice deficient in FasR (lpr) or Fas ligand (gld).