• ICAM-I;
  • primary biliary cirrhosis;
  • liver disease;
  • hepatocytes;
  • cytokines


A circulating form of the membrane-bound ICAM-1 (CD54). a ligand for lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1 (LFA-I), has recently been identified in normal human scrum. In this study. scrum levels of soluble ICAM-1 (sICAM-1) were determined by sandwich ELISA both in normal healthy individuals of both sexes and in subjects with autoimmune liver diseases. Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). primary sclerosing cholangitis and chronic active hepatitis (autoimnune) showed significant elevations in sICAM-1 compared with normal healthy subjects. The median level in PBC was approximately seven-fold above normal. Significant elevations in sICAM-1 were also detected, however, in patients with inactive alcoholic cirrhosis, suggesting that impaired liver clearance might at least in part account for the increased serum levels seen in patients with autoimmune liver disease. In patients with PBC. sICAM-I levels were related to summary assessment of disease severity (Child-Pugh classification) and correlated significantly with serum biochemical indices of liver function, including measures both of cholestasis and liver cell injury. In contrast, serum levels of E-selectin did not differ significantly from healthy controis. Although it has been suggested that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) may be a source of sICAM-I. investigation of ICAM-I gene expression by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction revealed similar basal levels of ICAM-1 message in PBMC of normal individuals and those with active PBC. This suggests that PBMC may not be a significant source of sICAM-1 in this disease. Similar increases in ICAM-I mRNA expression were found in cultured, concanavalin A (Con A)-stimulated lymphocytes of both PBC patients and controls. Significantly, stimulation of cultured, normal human hepatocytes with proinflammatory cytokines and endotoxin induced cell surface expression ofICAM-1 and the secretion/shedding of sICAM-1 into the hepatocyte culture medium. This new finding suggests that hepatocytes may bean important sourceofsICAM-1 in autoimmune and other chronic liver diseases. The possible role of sICAM-1 in inflammatory disorders remains to be determined.