The effect of ischemia and reperfusion on purine nucleoside phosphorylase was studied in an isolated perfused rat liver model. This enzyme is localized primarily in the cytoplasm of the endothelial and Kupffer cells; some activity is associated with the parenchymal cells. Levels of this enzyme accurately predicted the extent of ischemia and reperfusion damage to the microvascular endothelial cell of the liver. Livers from Lewis rats were subjected to 30, 45 and 60 min of warm (37° C) no flow ischemia that was followed by a standard reperfusion period lasting 45 min. Purine nucleoside phosphorylase was measured at the end of the no flow ischemia and reperfusion periods as was superoxide generation (O2-). Bile production was monitored throughout the no flow ischemia and reperfusion periods. Control perfusions were carried out for 120 min. A significant rise in purine nucleoside phosphorylase levels as compared with controls was observed at the end of ischemia in all the three groups. The highest level, 203.5 ± 29.2 mU/ml, was observed after 60 min of ischemia. After the reperfusion period, levels of purine nucleoside phosphorylase decreased in the 30- and 45-min groups 58.17 ± 9.66 mU/ml and 67.5 ± 17.1 mU/ml, respectively. These levels were equal to control perfusions. In contrast, after 60 min of ischemia, levels of purine nucleoside phosphorylase decreased early in the reperfusion period and then rose to 127.8 ± 14.8 mU/ml by the end of reperfusion (p < 0.0001). Superoxide generation at the beginning of reperfusion was higher than in controls with similar values observed at the end of 30, 45 and 60 min of ischemia. During reperfusion, production of superoxide continued. Bile production was significantly lower at the end of 30 min (0.044 ± 0.026 μl/min/gm), 45 min (0.029 ± 0.0022 μ/min/gm) and 60 min of ischemia (0.022 ± 0.008 μ/min/gm) when compared with bile production by control livers during the corresponding time (0.680 ± 0.195, 0.562 ± 0.133 and 0.480 ± 0.100 μ/min/gm respectively; p < 0.001). During reperfusion, rates of bile production were normal after 30 and 45 min of ischemia. In contrast, significantly lower rates of bile production, 0.046 ± 0.36 μ/min/gm (p < 0.001) occurred during reperfusion after 60 min of ischemia. Control livers during the same period produced 0.330 ± 0.056 μl/min/gm of bile. The results indicate that purine nucleoside phosphorylase levels may be a good index of oxidative injury to the liver in ischemia reperfusion and reliably predict the functional state of the organ after reperfusion.
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