Low-dose TNF-alpha protects against hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury in mice: implications for preconditioning

Narci Teoh, Isabelle Leclercq, Aileen Dela Pena, Geoffrey Farrell
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2003, 37 (1): 118-28
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) is implicated in the pathogenesis of hepatic ischemia reperfusion injury but can also prime hepatocytes to enter the cell cycle. Ischemic preconditioning protects against ischemia-reperfusion (IR) liver injury and is associated with activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) and cell cycle entry. We examined the pattern of TNF-alpha release during hepatic IR in the presence or absence of ischemic preconditioning, and we tested whether a single low-dose injection of TNF could mimic the biologic effects of ischemic preconditioning. In naïve mice, hepatic and plasma levels of TNF-alpha rose during hepatic ischemia, reaching high levels after 90 minutes; values remained elevated during reperfusion until 44 hours. Following the ischemic preconditioning stimulus, there was an early rise in hepatic and serum TNF-alpha levels, but, during a second prolonged ischemic interval peak, TNF-alpha values were lower than in naïve mice and declined to negligible levels by 2 hours reperfusion. An injection with 1 microg or 5 microg/kg body weight TNF-alpha 30 minutes prior to hepatic IR substantially reduced liver injury determined by liver histology and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. As in ischemic preconditioning, TNF-alpha pretreatment activated NF-kappaB DNA binding, STAT3, cyclin D1, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (cdk4) expression, and cell cycle entry, determined by proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) staining of hepatocyte nuclei. In conclusion, the hepatoprotective effects of "preconditioning" can be simulated by TNF-alpha injection, which has identical downstream effects on cell cycle entry. We propose that transient increases in TNF-alpha levels may substitute for, as well as, mediate the hepatoprotective effects of ischemic preconditioning against hepatic IR injury.

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