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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Aug;297(2):G249-58. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00041.2009. Epub 2009 Jun 25.

Preactivation of NKT cells with alpha-GalCer protects against hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury in mouse by a mechanism involving IL-13 and adenosine A2A receptor.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Hepatic preconditioning has emerged as a promising strategy of activating natural pathways to augment tolerance to liver ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. Liver-resident natural killer T (NKT) cells play an important role in modulating the local immune and inflammatory responses. This work was aimed to investigate whether preactivation of NKT cells could provide a beneficial "preconditioning" effect to ameliorate the subsequent hepatic IR injury. To selectively activate NKT cells, C57BL/6 mice were treated intraperitoneally with the glycolipid antigen alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) 1 h prior to hepatic ischemia. Significantly reduced liver IR injury was observed in mice pretreated with alpha- GalCer, and this protective effect was specifically abrogated by a CD1d blocking antibody. Serum TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and IL-13 levels were markedly increased shortly after alpha-GalCer injection. Pretreatment with a neutralizing antibody against TNF-alpha or IFN-gamma did not influence the protective effect of alpha-GalCer preconditioning, whereas preadministration of an IL-13 neutralizing antibody completely abolished the effect. Treatment with alpha-GalCer also led to an increased expression of adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR) in the liver, and blockade of A2AR by SH58261 diminished alpha-GalCer pretreatment-mediated attenuation of liver IR injury. In contrast, administration of the selective A2AR agonist CGS21680 reversed the counteracting effect of the IL-13 neutralizing antibody on alpha-GalCer preconditioning. Additionally, alpha-GalCer pretreatment was associated with a decreased neutrophil accumulation in the ischemic liver. These findings provide the first evidence that hepatic preconditioning by preactivation of NKT cells with alpha-GalCer protects the liver from IR injury via an IL-13 and adenosine A2AR-dependent mechanism.

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