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J Clin Invest. 1992 Dec;90(6):2333-9.

Hypoxia-mediated induction of endothelial cell interleukin-1 alpha. An autocrine mechanism promoting expression of leukocyte adhesion molecules on the vessel surface.

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Department of Physiology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York 10032.


Tissue injury that accompanies hypoxemia/reoxygenation shares features with the host response in inflammation, suggesting that cytokines, such as IL-1, may act as mediators in this setting. Human endothelial cells (ECs) subjected to hypoxia (PO2 approximately 12-14 Torr) elaborated IL-1 activity into conditioned media in a time-dependent manner; this activity was completely neutralized by an antibody to IL-1 alpha. Production of IL-1 activity by hypoxic ECs was associated with an increase in the level of mRNA for IL-1 alpha, and was followed by induction of endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 and enhanced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) during reoxygenation. During reoxygenation there was a three- to five-fold increased adherence of leukocytes, partly blocked by antibodies to endothelial-leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 and ICAM-1. Suppressing endothelial-derived IL-1, using either antibodies to IL-1 alpha, specific antisense oligonucleotides or the IL-1 receptor antagonist, decreased leukocyte adherence to reoxygenated ECs, emphasizing the integral role of IL-1 in the adherence phenomenon. Mice subjected to hypoxia (PO2 approximately 30-40 Torr) displayed increased plasma levels of IL-1 alpha, induction of IL-1 alpha mRNA in the lung, and enhanced expression of ICAM-1 in pulmonary tissue compared with normoxic controls. These data suggest that hypoxia is a stimulus which induces EC synthesis and release of IL-1 alpha, resulting in an autocrine enhancement in the expression of adhesion molecules.

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