Molecular Human Reproduction, vol.3, no.8, pp.655-662, 1997 (Scopus)
Cross-linking of Fas (CD95, APO-1) and Fas ligand (FasL; CD95L) induces apoptosis of Fas-bearing cells. Recent evidence suggests that FasL expression plays an important role in maintenance of immune privilege in murine testis and eye and in tumour escape from immune rejection in colon cancer, melanoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. Bcl-2 is a membrane protein that suppresses apoptosis in response to a variety of stimuli. In this paper we describe abundant expression of FasL protein and mRNA transcripts within the immune privileged environment of the placenta by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription in-situ polymerase chain reaction methods. The syncytiotrophoblast layer, the main site of feto-maternal interface, and extravillous trophoblasts, demonstrated consistent immunoreactivity for FasL in term placentae. Co-occurrence of Fas and Bcl-2 were detected with a similar pattern of distribution with FasL. The TUNEL method revealed evidence of apoptosis in the placental tissues. We speculate that abundant presence of FasL in the trophoblast contributes to immune privilege in this unique environment, perhaps by fostering apoptosis of activated Fas-expressing lymphocytes of maternal origin. An apoptotic process mediated by FasL may also play a role in placental invasion during implantation and underscores similarities between the trophoblast and A neoplastic cells.