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Free Radic Res Commun. 1991;15(5):277-84.

Superoxide generation by Kupffer cells and priming of neutrophils during reperfusion after hepatic ischemia.

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  • 1Center for Experimental Therapeutics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.


The objective of this study was to identify the cellular source of the vascular oxidant stress in hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury in male Fischer rats. Nonparenchymal cells (Kupffer cells, endothelial cells) and neutrophils were isolated from postischemic liver lobes by collagenase-pronase digestion followed by centrifugal elutriation. The spontaneous and stimulated generation of superoxide by these cells were subsequently quantified in vitro. Large Kupffer cells from the postischemic lobes spontaneously generated 300% more superoxide than similar cells from control animals. No difference in spontaneous superoxide formation was found when the small Kupffer cells were compared. No other cells isolated from the postischemic lobes or control liver including neutrophils released any detectable superoxide spontaneously. In contrast, small Kupffer cells and neutrophils from the postischemic liver generated significantly more superoxide after stimulation with phorbol ester or opsonized zymosan than the controls. The considerably higher response with zymosan stimulation compared to phorbol ester indicates a particular priming for a receptor-mediated signal transduction pathway during reperfusion. These studies demonstrate that Kupffer cells are the principal source of the oxidant stress during the initial reperfusion phase after hepatic ischemia. The priming of neutrophils during this time may be an important factor for the later neutrophil-induced injury phase.

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