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J Immunol. 1997 Jun 15;158(12):5941-8.

Transcriptional activation of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 gene in vivo and its role in the pathophysiology of neutrophil-induced liver injury in murine endotoxin shock.

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Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI 49007, USA.


Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (neutrophils) can cause hepatic parenchymal cell injury during endotoxin (ET) shock. Because adhesion molecules are critical for inflammatory cell damage, the role of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) was studied in the pathophysiology of ET shock. ET-sensitive mice (C3Heb/FeJ) were treated with 700 mg/kg galactosamine in combination with 100 microg/kg Salmonella abortus equi ET, 15 microg/kg TNF-alpha, or 13 to 23 microg/kg IL-1. VCAM-1 mRNA formation was strongly activated in animals treated with ET, TNF-alpha, or IL-1. In contrast, only TNF-alpha and IL-1, not ET, induced VCAM-1 gene transcription in livers of ET-resistant mice (C3H/HeJ). Immunohistochemistry and isolation of liver cells during endotoxemia indicated that VCAM-1 mRNA and protein were only formed in endothelial cells and Kupffer cells, not in hepatocytes. Galactosamine/ET induced neutrophil accumulation in sinusoids (515 +/- 30 neutrophils/50 high power fields) followed by transmigration at 7 h. At that time, severe liver injury was observed (necrosis, 53 +/- 5%). An anti-VCAM-1 Ab (3 mg/kg) attenuated the area of necrosis by 60%. The Ab reduced neutrophil transmigration by 84%, but had no effect on the total number of cells in the liver vasculature. Flow cytometric analysis identified the presence of very late Ag-4 on mouse peripheral neutrophils. Our data demonstrated cytokine-dependent VCAM-1 gene transcription and protein expression in the liver during endotoxemia. Neutrophils were able to use very late Ag-4/VCAM-1 interactions to transmigrate into liver parenchyma in vivo. Preventing transmigration by blocking VCAM-1 protected hepatocytes against neutrophil-induced injury.

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