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J Immunol. 1998 Nov 15;161(10):5745-54.

Acute hepatotoxicity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A in mice depends on T cells and TNF.

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  • 1Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Erlangen-Nurnberg, Germany.


The most potent virulence factor of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, its exotoxin A (PEA), inhibits protein synthesis, especially in the liver, and is a weak T cell mitogen. This study was performed to correlate hepatotoxic and possible immunostimulatory features of PEA in vivo. Injection of PEA to mice caused hepatocyte apoptosis, an increase in plasma transaminase activities, and the release of TNF, IFN-gamma, IL-2, and IL-6 into the circulation. Most strikingly, liver damage depended on T cells. Athymic nude mice or mice depleted of T cells by anti-Thy1.2 mAb pretreatment failed to develop acute hepatic failure, and survival was significantly prolonged following T cell depletion. Neutralization of TNF or lack of TNF receptors prevented liver injury. In the liver, TNF was produced by Kupffer cells before hepatocellular death occurred. After T cell depletion, Kupffer cells failed to produce TNF. Transaminase release was significantly reduced in perforin knockout mice, and it was even elevated in lpr/lpr mice. These results demonstrate that PEA induces liver damage not only by protein synthesis inhibition but also by TNF- and perforin-dependent, Fas-independent, apoptotic signals.

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