During anaphylaxis the sensitized liver can have substantial capacity for leukotriene production. However, the intrahepatic cellular source for these potent eicosanoid mediators has been unclear so far. We therefore analyzed the appropriate role of resident liver cells in organ-specific generation of leukotrienes by immunohistochemical localization of 5-lipoxygenase, by measurement of cysteinyl leukotriene production in animals or isolated livers and by histochemical monitoring of mast cells in rat, guinea pig and mouse livers, respectively. During anaphylaxis in vivo, these species all generated large amounts of leukotrienes. Immunohistochemistry with rat liver demonstrated resident mast cells as the predominant cell type in liver containing 5-lipoxygenase. Rat and guinea pig livers contained numerous mast cells and produced substantial amounts of leukotrienes on antigen challenge; in contrast, mouse livers neither showed detectable mast cells nor generated leukotrienes when stimulated analogously. Infusion of histamine or serotonin (1 μmol/L each) or of the degranulating substance P (8 μmo/L) did not elicit leukotriene generation in rat livers. Furthermore, substantial degranulation of liver mast cells by compound 48/80 (0.5 mg/kg body mass) was paralleled by only modest leukotriene formation (63 ± 10 pmol in bile/kg body mass/30 min). These results indicate that during anaphylaxis mast cells are the main intrahepatic cells initiating leukotriene production and that such leukotriene generation is likely to be independent of mast cell degranulation or the release of histamine or serotonin.
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