Kupffer cell inactivation prevents lipopolysaccharide-induced structural changes in the rat liver sinusoid: An electron-microscopic study



Scanning and transmission electron-microscopic examination of the rat liver sinusoid was performed in this study after in vivo treatment of rats with gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS, 1 mg/Kg(-1) body weight), with or without pretreatment with gadolinium chloride (GdCl3 10 mg/Kg−1 body weight). Twenty-seven and 48 hours after GdCl3 administration, to inactivate/eliminate part of the Kupffer cell population, a decrease in the number of visualized Kupffer cells was observed, without evident effects on the sinusoidal endothelial cell or on the hepatocyte. Three and 24 hours after its administration, LPS produced ultrastructural changes in the sinusoid characterized by morphological evidence of Kupffer cell activation (i.e., swelling and expanded philopodia anchoring the Kupffer cell to the luminal surface of the sinusoidal wall), and a marked decrease in the population of endothelial cell fenestration. The reduction in the number of fenestrae was associated with a change in the diameter of fenestrae and can be interpreted as a component of the “capillarization” process of the hepatic sinusoid. Such ultrastructural changes were prevented by the administration of GdCl3 24 hours before LPS injection. Hence, these findings suggest that LPS-induced structural changes in the liver sinusoid are mediated by an LPS-induced Kupffer cell activation. Coupled with previous experimental data, showing similar effects of GdCl3 on one of the hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cell (SEC) functions, i.e., hyaluronan scavenging, the data presented in this study strongly support the view that Kupffer cells modulate both the hepatic SEC's functional as well as ultrastructural properties.