Kupffer cell function in chronic ethanol-fed rats


2nd Department of Internal Medicine Faculty of Medicine University of Tokyo 7–3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku Tokyo 113, Japan


ABSTRACT— In an attempt to clarify the Kupffer cell function in alcoholism, chronic ethanol-fed rats were investigated. The clearance of latex particles in the rat was analysed to estimate the function of the reticuloendothelial system in the liver, and the phagocytic function of Kupffer cells was measured by counting particles in the cell after isolation of non-parenchymal cells by collagenase digestion of the liver following an injection of latex particles and subsequently by staining of endogenous peroxidase activities. In addition, the number of Kupffer cells and their phagocytic function were examined histologically in fresh frozen sections of liver after an injection of particles. Serum ethanol concentration in the ethanol-fed rats was 10–60 μmol/1. The clearance of latex particles was markedly reduced in the ethanol-fed rats as compared with the paired controls (P < 0.01). Markedly decreased-phagocytic function was found in 20% of Kupffer cells in the chronic ethanol-fed rats. The number of Kupffer cells in the ethanol-fed rats was increased as compared with the paired control rats. Chemotaxis analysis revealed that hepatocytes when incubated with ethanol, produced chemotactic factor for Kupffer cells and polymorphonuclear cells. These abnormal Kupffer cell functions may contribute to the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease.