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Am J Transplant. 2003 Sep;3(9):1076-82.

Cytoprotective and antiapoptotic effects of IL-13 in hepatic cold ischemia/reperfusion injury are heme oxygenase-1 dependent.

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The Dumont-UCLA Transplant Center, Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation, Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Liver injury caused by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) insult represents the major problem following orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). I/R damage has been linked to Th1-like cytokine producers. This study evaluates putative cytoprotective effects/mechanisms of Th2-type IL-13 gene transfer. IL-13 overexpression prevented hepatic insult in a rat model of 24 h cold ischemia followed by OLT, as assessed: (i) profoundly decreased hepatocellular damage (sGOT levels), and ameliorated histological signs of I/R injury (Suzuki criteria), consistent with long-term OLT survival; (ii) prevented hepatic apoptosis (TUNEL stains) and up-regulated expression of antiapoptotic (A20, Bcl-2/Bcl-xl)/antioxidant (HO-1) genes. However, inhibition of HO-1 with tin protoporphyrin reversed cytoprotective/antiapoptotic effects of IL-13. In conclusion, cytoprotection rendered by virally induced IL-13 against hepatic I/R injury in this clinically relevant rat hepatic cold I/R injury model was accomplished via decreased apoptosis and induction of antiapoptotic/antioxidant molecules. HO-1 neutralization studies suggest that HO-1 represents one of putative IL-13 downstream effectors. This study provides the rationale for novel approaches to maximize organ donor pool through the safer use of OLTs despite prolonged periods of cold ischemia.

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