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Am J Pathol. 2013 Jan;182(1):180-91. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.09.010. Epub 2012 Nov 14.

Gut bacteria drive Kupffer cell expansion via MAMP-mediated ICAM-1 induction on sinusoidal endothelium and influence preservation-reperfusion injury after orthotopic liver transplantation.

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Division of Transplantation, Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Bacteria in the gut microbiome shed microbial-associated molecule patterns (MAMPs) into the portal venous circulation, where they augment various aspects of systemic immunity via low-level stimulation. Because the liver is immediately downstream of the intestines, we proposed that gut-derived MAMPs shape liver immunity and affect Kupffer cell (KC) phenotype. Germ-free (GF), antibiotic-treated (AVMN), and conventional (CL) mice were used to study KC development, function, and response to the significant stress of cold storage, reperfusion, and orthotopic transplantation. We found that a cocktail of physiologically active MAMPs translocate into the portal circulation, with flagellin (Toll-like receptor 5 ligand) being the most plentiful and capable of promoting hepatic monocyte influx in GF mice. In MAMP-deficient GF or AVMN livers, KCs are lower in numbers, have higher phagocytic activity, and have lower major histocompatibility complex II expression. MAMP-containing CL livers harbor significantly increased KC numbers via induction of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 on liver sinusoidal endothelium. These CL KCs have a primed yet expected phenotype, with increased major histocompatibility complex class II and lower phagocytic activity that increases susceptibility to liver preservation/reperfusion injury after orthotopic transplantation. The KC number, functional activity, and maturational status are directly related to the concentration of gut-derived MAMPs and can be significantly reduced by broad-spectrum antibiotics, thereby affecting susceptibility to injury.

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