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Key Event Title
Increased, Activation and Recruitment of Hepatic macrophages (Kupffer Cells)
|Level of Biological Organization|
Key Event Components
Key Event Overview
AOPs Including This Key Event
Key Event Description
Kupffer cells (KCs) are a specialized population of macrophages that reside in the liver; they were first described by Carl Wilhelm von Kupffer (1829–1902).  KCs constitute 80%-90% of the tissue macrophages in the reticuloendothelial system and account for approximately 15% of the total liver cell population  They play an important role in normal physiology and homeostasis as well as participating in the acute and chronic responses of the liver to toxic compounds. Activation of KCs results in the release of an array of inflammatory mediators, growth factors, and reactive oxygen species. This activation appears to modulate acute hepatocyte injury as well as chronic liver responses including hepatic cancer. Understanding the role KCs play in these diverse responses is key to understanding mechanisms of liver injury. Besides the release of inflammatory mediators including cytokines, chemokines, lysosomal and proteolytic enzymes KCs are a main source of TGF-β1 (transforming growth factor-beta 1, the most potent profibrogenic cytokine). In addition latent TGF-β1 can be activated by KC-secreted matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9).   through the release of biologically active substances that promote the pathogenic process. Activated KCs also release ROS like superoxide generated by NOX (NADPH oxidase), thus contributing to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress also activates a variety of transcription factors like NF-κB, PPAR-γ leading to an increased gene expression for the production of growth factors, inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. KCs express TNF-α (Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha), IL-1 (Interleukin-1) and MCP-1 (monocyte-chemoattractant protein-1), all being mitogens and chemoattractants for hepatic stellate ceells (HSCs) and induce the expression of PDGF receptors on HSCs which enhances cell proliferation. Expressed TNF-α, TRAIL (TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand), and FasL (Fas Ligand) are not only pro-inflammatory active but also capable of inducing death receptor-mediated apoptosis in hepatocytes  Under conditions of oxidative stress macrophages are further activated which leads to a more enhanced inflammatory response that again further activates KCs though cytokines (Interferon gamma (IFNγ), granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), TNF-α), bacterial lipopolysaccharides, extracellular matrix proteins, and other chemical mediators.   Besides KCs, the resident hepatic macrophages, infiltrating bone marrow-derived macrophages, originating from circulating monocytes are recruited to the injured liver via chemokine signals. KCs appear essential for sensing tissue injury and initiating inflammatory responses, while infiltrating Ly-6C+ monocyte-derived macrophages are linked to chronic inflammation and fibrogenesis. The profibrotic functions of KCs (HSC activation via paracrine mechanisms) during chronic hepatic injury remain functionally relevant, even if the infiltration of additional inflammatory monocytes is blocked via pharmacological inhibition of the chemokine CCL2   KC activation and macrophage recruitment are two separate events and both are necessary for fibrogenesis, but as they occur in parallel, they can be summarised as one KE. Probably there is a threshold of KC activation and release above which liver damage is induced. Pre-treatment with gadolinium chloride (GdCl), which inhibits KC function, reduced both hepatocyte and sinusoidal epithelial cell injury, as well as decreased the numbers of macrophages appearing in hepatic lesions and inhibited TGF-β1 mRNA expression in macrophages. Experimental inhibition of KC function or depletion of KCs appeared to protect against chemical-induced liver injury.
How It Is Measured or Detected
Kupffer cell activation can be measured by means of expressed cytokines, e.g. tissue levels of TNF-a , IL-6 expression, measured by immunoassays or Elisa (offered by various companies), soluble CD163   or increase in expression of Kupffer cell marker genes such as Lyz, Gzmb, and Il1b, (Genome U34A Array, Affymetrix); 
Domain of Applicability
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