, Volume 423, Issue 3, pp 169-176

Immunohistochemical detection of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, other cytokines and adhesion molecules in human livers with alcoholic hepatitis

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This immunohistochemical study was designed to investigate the possible contribution to and topographical distribution of some important cytokines, such as tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interleukins, in acute alcoholic hepatitis. The well-known inductive capacity of these cytokines with respect to the expression and/or up-regulation of adhesion molecules, such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1), was a further point to be studied. Moreover, the proposed induction of adhesion molecules might also be associated with the activation and attraction of a special population of inflammatory cells characteristic for alcoholic hepatitis. Frozen liver samples from patients who died with signs of acute alcoholic hepatitis were evaluated using the alkaline phosphatase anti-alkaline phosphatase immunostaining technique and also single and double indirect immunofluorescence. In acute alcoholic hepatitis TNFα could be detected predominantly in ballooned hepatocytes, which often contained alcoholic hyalin (Mallory bodies). Moreover, TNFα showed a co-distribution with ICAM-1 expressed in the membranes of hepatocytes and with the occurrence of CD11b positive polymorphonuclear leukocytes (neutrophils) suggesting a possible major role of the β2-integrin Mac-1 as a ligand for ICAM-1. No induction of ELAM-1 could be found. In alcoholic hepatitis cytokines may be responsible for the induction of the adhesion molecule ICAM-1 on hepatocytic membranes and activate a defined population of inflammatory cells, thus contributing to the characteristic histological picture of acute alcoholic hepatitis with its concentration of neutrophils especially in areas with ballooned Mallory body-containing hepatocytes. Our results are in line with clinical findings showing high levels of TNFα and interleukin-1 in sera of patients with alcoholic hepatitis and with the already reported expression of ICAM-1 on hepatocytes.