The mechanism of injury and death of muscle cells in the inflammatory myopathies (dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and inclusion body myositis) remains obscure. We and others have not detected apoptosis in the muscle biopsies from patients with myositis despite clear evidence of cell damage and loss. We provide evidence in this study that Fas ligand (FasL) as well as Fas is present on muscle cells and inflammatory cells in myositis biopsies: Fas is present on most muscle cells and lymphocytes, and FasL is present on degenerating muscle cells and many infiltrating mononuclear cells. The expression of both Fas and FasL in the inflamed tissue makes the absence of apoptosis more striking. To address the mechanisms of this resistance to classical apoptosis in muscle cells, we have investigated the expression of the antiapoptotic molecule FLICE (Fas-associated death domain-like IL-1- converting enzyme)-inhibitory protein (FLIP) in muscle biopsies of myositis patients and in cultured human skeletal muscle cells. Using laser capture microscopy, we have shown that FLIP is expressed in the muscle fibers and on infiltrating lymphocytes of myositis biopsies. Furthermore, we have shown that FLIP, but not Bcl-2, is expressed in cultured human skeletal muscle cells stimulated with proinflammatory cytokines, and inhibition of FLIP with antisense oligonucleotides promotes significant cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase autoantigen, a sensitive indicator of apoptosis. These studies strongly suggest that the resistance of muscle to Fas-mediated apoptosis is due to the expression of FLIP in muscle cells in the inflammatory environment in myositis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy