A significant proportion of previously activated human T cells undergo apoptosis when triggered through the CD3/T cell receptor complex, a process termed activation-induced cell death (AICD). Ligation of Fas on activated T cells by either Fas antibodies or recombinant human Fas-ligand (Fas-L) also results in cytolysis. We demonstrate that these two pathways of apoptosis are causally related. Stimulation of previously activated T cells resulted in the expression of Fas-L mRNA and lysis of Fas-positive target cells. Fas-L antagonists inhibited AICD of T cell clones and staphylococcus enterotoxin B (SEB)-specific T cell lines. The data indicate AICD in previously stimulated T cells is mediated by Fas/Fas-L interactions.

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