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Cell Immunol. 2005 Mar;234(1):31-8.

Association of NKT cells and granulocytes with liver injury after reperfusion of the portal vein.

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Department of Immunology, Niigata University School of Medicine, Niigata 951-8510, Japan.


Reperfusion of the liver was conducted by clamping the portal vein for 30 min in mice, followed by unclamping. Unique variation in the number of lymphocytes was induced and liver injury occurred thereafter. The major expander cells in the liver were estimated to be natural killer T cells (i.e., NKT cells), whereas conventional T cells and NK cells increased only slightly or somewhat decreased in number and proportion at that time. Reflecting the expansion of NKT cells in the liver, a Th0-type of cytokine profile was detected in sera, and cytotoxic activity was enhanced in liver lymphocytes. In NKT cell-deficient mice including CD1d (-/-) mice and athymic nude mice, the magnitude of liver injury decreased up to 50% of that of control mice. It was also suspected that accumulating granulocytes which produce superoxides might be associated with liver injury after reperfusion. This might be due to stress-associated production of catecholamines. It is known that granulocytes bear surface adrenergic receptors and that they are activated by sympathetic nerve stimulation after stress. The present results therefore suggest that liver injury after reperfusion may be mainly caused by the activation of NKT cells and granulocytes, possibly by their cytotoxicity and superoxide production, respectively.

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