A previous study of the murine model of Schistosoma mansoni infection has implicated splenic CD19(+) B lymphocytes as Fas ligand (FasL)-bearing mediators of CD4(+) T-lymphocyte apoptosis. The present study shows that B-cell deficiency leads to decreased CD4(+) T-cell apoptosis during infection and compares FasL expression and killer function of B-1a- and CD5(−) B-lymphocyte subsets. B-1a cells from uninfected mice displayed constitutive expression of FasL compared with that of CD5(−) B cells. FasL expression was enhanced following worm egg deposition and antigenic stimulation on both subsets of B cells. Purified B-1a cells from uninfected mice were potent effectors of CD4(+) T-cell apoptosis, and the killing effect was enhanced during schistosome infection. FasL expression by splenic B cells required CD4(+)-T-cell help that was replaced by addition of culture supernatants from antigen-stimulated splenocytes of infected mice. The culture-supernatant-stimulated FasL expression was inhibited by anti-interleukin 10 (IL-10) and anti-IL-4 antibodies. Culture of purified B cells with recombinant IL-4 (rIL-4), rIL-10, and soluble egg antigens (SEA) led to increased expression of FasL on B-1a cells. These results suggest that FasL-expressing, splenic B-1a cells are important mediators of SEA-stimulated CD4(+)-T-cell apoptosis and that maximal FasL expression on B-1a cells is dependent on antigenic stimulation and the presence of IL-4 and IL-10
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