Opposite roles of neutrophils and macrophages in the pathogenesis of acetaminophen-induced acute liver injury



Neutrophils and macrophages infiltrate after acetaminophen (APAP)-induced liver injury starts to develop. However, their precise roles still remain elusive. In untreated and control IgG-treated wild-type (WT) mice, intraperitoneal APAP administration (750 mg/kg) caused liver injury including centrilobular hepatic necrosis and infiltration of neutrophils and macrophages, with about 50% mortality within 48 h after the injection. APAP injection markedly augmented intrahepatic gene expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and heme oxygenase (HO)-1. Moreover, neutrophils expressed iNOS, which is presumed to be an aggravating molecule for APAP-induced liver injury, while HO-1 was mainly expressed by macrophages. All anti-granulocyte antibody-treated neutropenic WT and most CXC chemokine receptor 2 (CXCR2)-deficient mice survived the same dose of APAP, with reduced neutrophil infiltration and iNOS expression, indicating the pathogenic roles of neutrophils in APAP-induced liver injury. However, APAP caused more exaggerated liver injury in CXCR2-deficient mice with reduced macrophage infiltration and HO-1 gene expression, compared with neutropenic WT mice. An HO-1 inhibitor, tin-protoporphyrin-IX, significantly increased APAP-induced mortality, implicating HO-1 as a protective molecule for APAP-induced liver injury. Thus, CXCR2 may regulate the infiltration of both iNOS-expressing neutrophils and HO-1-expressing macrophages, and the balance between these two molecules may determine the outcome of APAP-induced liver injury.