Role of nitric oxide in Kupffer cell-mediated hepatoma cell cytotoxicity in vitro and ex vivo

Dai Fukumura, Yoshikazu Yonei, Iwao Kurose, Hidetsugu Saito, Tazuko Ohishi, Hajime Higuchi, Soichiro Miura, Shinzo Kato, Hiroyuki Kimura, Hirotoshi Ebinuma, Hiromasa Ishii

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The metabolic changes in tumor cells (AH70, a rat hepatoma cell line) cocultured with isolated rat Kupffer cells were visualized and analyzed by a laser scanning confocal imaging system. When AH70 cells were cocultured with Kupffer cells, fluorescence intensity of rhodamine 123 (Rh123) decreased, indicating the reduction of mitochondrial function. The reduction in Rh123 was eliminated by N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA), an analogue of L- arginine, suggesting the involvement of nitric oxide (NO). Two hours after the cells were cocultured, membrane compromised AH70 cells which were observed as propidium iodide (PI)-positive cells, increased in number approximately from 2.8% to 25%. This increase was also attenuated by L-NMMA, suggesting that Kupffer cell-mediated injury of tumor cells largely depends on NO. The concentration of NO2/- + NO3/- in the culture medium markedly increased after coculture of AH70 cells with Kupffer cells. Moreover, NO synthase (NOS) activity in Kupffer cells significantly increased after coculture. These in vitro results suggest that NO mediates Kupffer cell- induced tumor cell damage characterized by reduced mitochondrial function and diminished barrier function. In the ex vivo study of the perfused liver to which AH70 cells were injected via the catheter inserted into the portal vein, some AH70 cells were arrested in the upper stream of sinusoid and the fluorescence intensity of Rh123 in adherent AH70 cells decreased in a time- dependent manner within 2 hours. The number of PI-positive AH70 cells also increased 2 hours after the injection of AH70 cells. These changes were inhibited by either administration of N(ω)-L-nitroarginine-methylester (L- NAME) to perfusate or pretreatment of the rat liver with GdCl3, which is known to deplete Kupffer cell function. Thus, the present study suggests that NO from Kupffer cells induces mitochondrial dysfunction in tumor cells followed by membrane barrier dysfunction in the liver sinusoid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Jul
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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