Research Article| Volume 30, ISSUE 2, P213-221, February 1999

Effects of exogenous superoxide anion and nitric oxide on the scavenging function and electron microscopic appearance of the sinusoidal endothelium in the isolated, perfused rat liver


      Background/Aims: Functional and morphological alterations of the hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cell occur in several models of experimental liver injury and in clinical settings. The causes of these alterations are multiple. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the early functional impairment and morphological alterations of the sinusoidal endothelial cell and hepatic sinusoid associated with liver injury are mediated by free radical species, such as superoxide anion and nitric oxide.
      Methods: Isolated rat livers were perfused by recirculation with hemoglobin-free, Krebs-Henseleit bicarbonate buffer and presented with a source of superoxide anion (xanthine oxidase+hypoxanthine) or nitric oxide (S-nitroso-N-acetyl penicillamine). Hyaluronan uptake (an index of sinusoidal endothelial cell scavenging function), thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances content of the tissue (a marker of lipid peroxidation), reduced and oxidized glutathione (a marker of the thiol system oxidation/reduction state), lactate dehydrogenase and alanine aminotransferase activities (markers of cytolysis), as well as scanning and transmission electron microscopic appearance of the sinusoid were evaluated.
      Results: At the high concentrations used, both free radical generating systems suppressed hyaluronan uptake, increased malondialdehyde content of the tissue, enhanced the release of both liver enzymes, decreased the total glutathione content of the liver, and altered the ratio of reduced/oxidized glutathione. Both free radical species induced dose-dependent morphological alterations of the sinusoid, consisting of the appearance of large gaps replacing the sieve-plated fenestration.
      Conclusions: The free radical species-induced functional impairment and morphological alterations of the liver sinusoid, presented in this study, closely resemble the early in vivo changes associated with liver injury under a variety of conditions, such as preservation and reperfusion, or administration of hepatotoxicants such as D-galactosamine, Gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharides, acetaminophen, alcohol and others. Therefore, we suggest that early liver sinusoid injury, observed under these conditions, can be attributed to the action of free radicals, such as superoxide anion and nitric oxide.


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