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Virchows Arch. 2005 Jun;446(6):663-73. Epub 2005 May 20.

A murine model of NKT cell-mediated liver injury induced by alpha-galactosylceramide/d-galactosamine.

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  • 1Department of Hepatology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-4-3 Asahimachi, Abeno-ku, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Virchows Arch. 2006 Aug;449(2):279. Mitchell, Kronenberg [corrected to Kronenberg, Mitchell].


Natural killer-T (NKT) cells are rich in the liver. However, their involvement in liver injury is not fully understood. We developed here a new murine model of NKT-cell-activation-associated liver injury, and investigated a role of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and Fas in pathogenesis. We injected intraperitoneally alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer), an NKT-cell stimulant, into D-galactosamine (GalN)-sensitized mice. Survival rate, pathological changes of the liver, and plasma concentrations of cytokines were studied. Alpha-GalCer/GalN administration gave a lethal effect within 7 h, making pathological changes such as massive parenchymal hemorrhage, hepatocyte apoptosis, sinusoidal endothelial cell injury, and close apposition of lymphocytes to apoptotic hepatocytes. Anti-NK1.1 mAb-pretreated mice and Valpha14NKT knock out (KO) mice did not develop liver injury. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) were elevated at 4 h in the plasma. These cytokines were produced by hepatic lymphocytes as demonstrated by in vitro stimulation with alpha-GalCer. The lethal effect was suppressed in TNF-alpha KO mice, TNF receptor-1 KO mice, and lpr/lpr (Fas deficient) mice, whereas it was not in IFN-gamma KO mice. These results indicate that the present liver injury is characterized by parenchymal hemorrhage and hepatocyte apoptosis, and mediated by TNF-alpha secretion and direct cytotoxicity of alpha-GalCer-activated NKT cells.

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