Inactivation of Kupffer cells prevents early alcohol-induced liver injury

Authors

  • Yukito Adachi,

    1. Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365
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  • Blair U. Bradford,

    1. Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365
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  • Wenshi Gao,

    1. Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365
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  • Heidi K. Bojes,

    1. Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365
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  • Ronald G. Thurman Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365
    • Laboratory of Hepatobiology and Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, CB #7365, Faculty Laboratory Office Building, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599–7365
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Abstract

It is well recognized that consumption of alcohol leads to liver disease in a dose-dependent manner; however, the exact mechanisms remain unclear. Hypoxia subsequent to a hypermetabolic state may be involved; therefore, when it was observed recently that inactivation of Kupffer cells prevented stimulation of hepatic oxygen uptake by alcohol, the idea that Kupffer cells participate in early events that ultimately lead to alcohol-induced liver disease became a real possibility. The purpose of this study was to test that hypothesis. Male Wistar rats were exposed to ethanol continuously by means of intragastric feeding for up to 4 weeks using the model developed by Tsukamoto and French. In this model, ethanol causes fatty liver, necrosis and inflammation — changes characteristic of alcohol-induced liver disease in human beings. Kupffer cells were inactivated by twice weekly treatment with gadolinium chloride (GdCl3), a selective Kupffer cell toxicant. AST levels were elevated to 192 ± 13 and 244 ± 56 IU/L in rats exposed to ethanol for 2 and 4 wk, respectively (control value, 88 ± 7). This injury was prevented almost completely by GdCl3 treatment. Fatty changes, inflammation and necrosis were also all reduced dramatically by GdCl3 treatment. The average hepatic pathological score of rats treated with ethanol for 4 wk was 4.3 ± 0.6, which was reduced significantly in ethanol- and GdCl3-treated rats to 1.8 ± 0.5 (p<0.05). Rates of ethanol elimination were elevated 2- to 3-fold in rats exposed to ethanol for 2 to 4 wk. This elevation was blocked by GdCl3 treatment. These results demonstrate that GdCl3 prevents alcohol-induced liver injury and suggest strongly that Kupffer cells participate in the early phases of the disease process. Thus, pharmacological manipulation of Kupffer cell function might represent a new approach to clinical management of alcohol-induced liver injury. (Hepatology 1994;20:453-460.)

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