Cholestatic liver injury increases circulating TNF-α and IL-6 and mortality after Escherichia coli endotoxemia

Andrew J. Lechner, Alvaro Velasquez, Karl R. Knudsen, Cheryl A. Johanns, Thomas F. Tracy, George M. Matuschak

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We employed a bile duct ligation (BDL) model of cholestatic liver injury to test the hypothesis that this form of preexisting hepatic dysfunction alters the kinetics of circulating TNF-α and IL-6 after Escherichia coli endotoxemia, thereby augmenting mortality and lung injury by a TNF-α:leukotriene (LT) axis of inflammation. Male rats were catheterized 13 d after BDL or sham surgery and studied while awake 18 to 24 h later. Cholestasis after BDL was confirmed by baseline serum bilirubin (BDL = 7.34 ± 0.72 mg/dl, mean ± SEM, n = 17 versus Sham = 0.25 ± 0.07, n = 20; p < 0.005) and histopathology. Sham and BDL animals received E. coli lipopolysaccharide serotype O55:B5 (LPS, 5 mg/kg i.v.) or 0.9% NaCl (NS) ending at t = 0 and were monitored over 24 h for vital signs and hemodynamics. In parallel studies, lipoxygenase inhibition was performed using diethylcarbamazine or the 5-lipoxygenase activating-protein inhibitor MK-886. Blood was collected at baseline and at t = 1.5, 3.5, and 24 h for formed elements and for serum endotoxin, TNF-α, IL-6, bilirubin, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT). Organs were evaluated at 24 h for histopathology, including neutrophil (PMN) densities and wet/dry weight (W/D) ratios. Cholestasis reduced survival after otherwise nonlethal endotoxemia, with seven of 11 BDL + LPS rats dying within 24 h versus no deaths in BDL + NS (n = 6), Sham + LPS (n = 14), or Sham + NS (n = 6) animals (p < 0.01). Despite equivalent serum endotoxin between groups, circulating TNF-α was 8-fold higher in BDL + LPS than in Sham + LPS rats at 1.5 and 3.5 h (p < 0.001), whereas serum TNF-α did not differ between BDL + NS and Sham + NS rats. IL-6 likewise was increased differentially by 1.5 h in BDL + LPS animals (11.98 ± 2.42 ng/ml) versus Sham + LPS rats (3.05 ± 0.58 ng/ml, p < 0.05). Hypothermia, bradycardic hypotension, and leukopenia were most severe and prolonged in BDL + LPS rats, which also had significantly higher ALT values, W/D ratios, and organ PMN counts. LT inhibition failed to reduce BDL-related differences in serum cytokines or survival after endotoxemia. Thus, cholestasis augments inflammatory responses to gram-negative endotoxemia, sensitizing the host to enhanced fluid flux in multiple organs and to mortality by a LT-independent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1550-1558
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5 PART I
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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