The Fas and FasL Apoptotic Pathway was investigated by Protein ImmunoHistoChemistry, Flow Cytometry, and Reverse Transcriptase-PCR Analysis.
To assess whether it is involved in the elimination of target and/or Effector Cells from the Central Nervous System (CNS) during adoptively transferred Chronic Relapsing Experimental AutoImmune EncephaloMyelitis (EAE), a model for Multiple Sclerosis.
In addition to Fas and FasL, we studied Bax, an IntraCellular protein of the Apoptotic cascade, the Bax antagonist and AntiApoptotic molecule Bcl-2, and DNA fragmentation, the final step in the Apoptotic Pathway.
Infiltrating CD4+ T-Cells and Parenchymal Microglia expressed Fas, FasL, and Bax, and about half of these cells showed DNA fragmentation, a combination indicative of ongoing Apoptosis.
Using Flow Cytometry and Reverse Transcriptase-PCR, a positive correlation was seen between disease activity and up-regulation of the Fas system.
In fact, Fas and FasL were expressed at low levels at the onset of EAE and increased at the height of disease to involve about one-third of all infiltrating Lymphocytes.
In the normal CNS, Fas ImmunoReactivity was constitutively present at low levels on Oligodendrocytes and was up-regulated in the CNS during the course of EAE.
However, Oligodendrocytes showed no Bax reactivity or DNA fragmentation and expressed high levels of Bcl-2, as did the majority of infiltrating CD3+ cells, a pattern inconsistent with Apoptosis.
Thus, while molecules of the Apoptotic cascade are well represented in the CNS during EAE, their expression correlates with elimination of infiltrating cells and Microglia, not the Myelinating Cell, the Oligodendrocyte.