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Hepatology. 2008 Dec;48(6):1979-88. doi: 10.1002/hep.22561.

Superoxide produced by Kupffer cells is an essential effector in concanavalin A-induced hepatitis in mice.

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Department of Immunology and Microbiology, National Defense Medical College, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan.


Although concanavalin A (Con-A)-induced experimental hepatitis is thought to be induced by activated T cells, natural killer T (NKT) cells, and cytokines, precise mechanisms are still unknown. In the current study, we investigated the roles of Kupffer cells, NKT cells, FasL, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and superoxide in Con-A hepatitis in C57BL/6 mice. Removal of Kupffer cells using gadolinium chloride (GdCl(3)) from the liver completely inhibited Con-A hepatitis, whereas increased serum TNF and IFN-gamma levels were not inhibited at all. Unexpectedly, anti-FasL antibody pretreatment did not inhibit Con-A hepatitis, whereas it inhibited hepatic injury induced by a synthetic ligand of NKT cells, alpha-galactosylceramide. Furthermore, GdCl(3) pretreatment changed neither the activation-induced down-regulation of NK1.1 antigens as well as T cell receptors of NKT cells nor the increased expression of the CD69 activation antigen of hepatic T cells. CD68(+) Kupffer cells greatly increased in proportion in the early phase after Con-A injection; this increase was abrogated by GdCl(3) pretreatment. Anti-TNF antibody (Ab) pretreatment did not inhibit the increase of Kupffer cells, but it effectively suppressed superoxide/reactive oxygen production from Kupffer cells and the resulting hepatic injury. Conversely, depletion of NKT cells in mice by NK1.1 Ab pretreatment did suppress both the increase of CD68(+) Kupffer cells and Con-A hepatitis. Consistently, the diminution of oxygen radicals produced by Kupffer cells by use of free radical scavengers greatly inhibited Con-A hepatitis without suppressing cytokine production. However, adoptive transfer experiments also indicate that a close interaction/cooperation of Kupffer cells with NKT cells is essential for Con-A hepatitis.


Superoxide produced by Kupffer cells may be the essential effector in Con-A hepatitis, and TNF and NKT cells support their activation and superoxide production.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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