Excessive nitric oxide (NO) generated by hepatic cells in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and inflammatory substances (e.g., platelet- activating factor [PAF]) is a key contributor to the pathophysiological outcomes observed in the liver during sepsis. In rats subjected to liver- focused endotoxemia, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) levels in the intact liver were elevated by 6 hours; cell-specific expression of iNOS messenger RNA (mRNA) was Kupffer cells (KCs), endothelial cells, and hepatocytes. Elevated serum alanine transaminase (ALT) levels at 6 hours confirmed hepatic damage. Pretreatment of endotoxemic rats with PAF receptor antagonists BN 50739 or WEB 2170 reduced serum ALT and iNOS mRNA levels in the intact liver. Pretreatment of cultured KCs with BN 50739 or WEB 2170 inhibited both LPS and PAF-induced iNOS mRNA formation. In addition, LPS- induced iNOS protein levels in KCs pretreated with BN 50739 or WEB 2170 were decreased. Exposure of KCs to either LPS or PAF caused the translocation of the p65 subunit of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) into the nucleus and this process was attenuated by BN 50739 and WEB 2170. There was concomitant inhibition of LPS-dependent degradation of the inhibitory protein IκBα and increase in intracellular Ca2+ in KC treated with BN 50739 or WEB 2170. Also, in KCs, LPS was able to induce iNOS mRNA expression independent of CD14. This response was inhibited by pretreatment of KCs with either BN 50739 or WEB 2170. Our findings indicate that PAF receptor antagonists convey protection against hepatocellular injury accompanied by a decrease in nitric oxide (NO) formation in the livers of endotoxemic rats.
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