Activation of the complement cascade represents an important event during ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI). This work was designed to investigate the role of the membrane attack complex (MAC; C5b-9) in the pathogenesis of hepatic IRI. Livers from B&W/Stahl/rC6(+) and C6(-) rats were harvested, stored for 24 hours at 4°C, and then transplanted [orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT)] to syngeneic recipients. There were 4 experimental groups: (1) C6(+)→C6(+), (2) C6(+)→C6(-), (3) C6(-)→C6(+), and (4) C6(-)→C6(-). At day + 1, C6(-) OLTs showed decreased vascular congestion/necrosis, contrasting with extensive necrosis in C6(+) livers, that was independent of the recipient C6 status (Suzuki score: 7.2 ± 0.9, 7.3 ± 1.3, 4.5 ± 0.6, and 4.8 ± 0.4 for groups 1-4, respectively, P< 0.05). The liver function improved in recipients of C6(-) grafts (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase: 2573 ± 488, 1808 ± 302, 1170 ± 111, and 1188 ± 184 in groups 1-4, respectively, P < 0.05). Intragraft macrophage infiltration (ED-1 immunostaining) and neutrophil infiltration (myeloperoxidase activity) were reduced in C6(-) grafts versus C6(+) grafts (P = 0.001); these data were confirmed by esterase staining (naphthol). The expression of proinflammatory interferon-γ, interleukin-1β, and tumor necrosis factor messenger RNA/protein was also reduced in C6(-) OLTs in comparison with C6(+) OLTs. Western blot-assisted expression of proapoptotic caspase-3 was decreased in C6(-) OLTs versus C6(+) OLTs (P = 0.006), whereas antiapoptotic Bcl-2/ Bag-1 was enhanced in C6(-) OLTs compared with C6(+) OLTs (P = 0.001). Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling staining of apoptotic cells was enhanced (P < 0.05) in C6(+) OLTs compared with C6(-) OLTs. Thus, the terminal products of the complement system are essential in the mechanism of hepatic IRI. This is the first report using a clinically relevant liver cold ischemia model to show that local MAC inhibition attenuates IRI cascade in OLT recipients.
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