CD40 activation induces apoptosis in cultured human hepatocytes via induction of cell surface fas ligand expression and amplifies fas-mediated hepatocyte death during allograft rejection

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We propose that a novel mechanism of hepatocyte apoptosis, involving a cooperative interaction between CD40 and Fas, is involved in the hepatocyte loss of chronic liver allograft rejection. We detected increased hepatocyte expression of Fas, Fas ligand (FasL), and CD40 associated with dropout of centrilobular (acinar zone 3) hepatocytes in chronic allograft rejection. Expression of CD40 ligand (CD40L) was also increased but was largely restricted to CD68(+) macrophages. A functional role for CD40 and Fas in hepatocyte apoptosis was demonstrated in vitro using primary human hepatocytes and the HepG2 cell line in both of which apoptosis was induced, not only by cross-linking Fas directly but also via CD40 activation. Our data suggest that CD40 activation induces apoptosis via Fas because (a) ligation of CD40 upregulated hepatocyte FasL expression, and (b) apoptosis induced via activation of CD40 was prevented by a neutralizing monoclonal antibody to FasL. Thus, CD40 engagement triggers apoptosis of human hepatocytes and might amplify Fas-dependent hepatocyte apoptosis in chronic rejection and other inflammatory liver diseases in which Fas-mediated apoptosis is involved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-6
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 1999


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antigens, CD40, Apoptosis, Cell Line, Fas Ligand Protein, Flow Cytometry, Graft Rejection, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Inflammation, Liver, Membrane Glycoproteins, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Transplantation, Homologous

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