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Gene Ther. 2002 Feb;9(3):183-91.

Viral gene delivery of superoxide dismutase attenuates experimental cholestasis-induced liver fibrosis in the rat.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7365, USA.


Hydrophobic bile acids lead to generation of oxygen free radicals in mitochondria. Accordingly, this study investigated if gene delivery of superoxide dismutase (SOD) would reduce hepatic injury caused by experimental cholestasis. Rats were given adenovirus (Ad; 3 x 10(9) p.f.u., i.v.) carrying the bacterial control gene lacZ, mitochondrial Mn-SOD or cytosolic Cu/Zn-SOD genes 3 days before bile duct ligation. Both Mn- and Cu/Zn-SOD activity was increased in the liver about four-fold 3 days after viral infection. Serum alanine transaminase increased to about 710 U/l after bile duct ligation, which was blunted by about 70% in rats receiving Ad-Mn-SOD, but by only 30% in rats receiving Ad-Cu/Zn-SOD. Bile duct ligation caused focal necrosis, apoptosis and fibrosis in the liver and increased collagen alpha1 mRNA about 20-fold. These effects were reduced significantly by Ad-Mn-SOD, but not by Ad-Cu/Zn-SOD. In addition, bile duct ligation increased 4-hydroxynonenal, a product of lipid peroxidation, activated NF-kappaB and increased synthesis of TNF(alpha) and TGF-beta. These effects were also blunted significantly by Ad-Mn-SOD, but not by Ad-Cu/Zn-SOD. Taken together, it is concluded that cholestasis causes liver injury by mechanisms involving mitochondrial oxidative stress. Gene delivery of mitochondrial Mn-SOD blocks formation of oxygen radicals and production of toxic cytokines thereby minimizing liver injury caused by cholestasis.

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