, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 103-111

Oxidative stress-mediated hepatotoxicity of iron and copper: Role of Kupffer cells

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Iron- or copper-mediated catalysis leads to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can attack biomolecules directly, with the consequent enhancement in membrane lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, and protein oxidation. Reactive nitrogen species (RNS) can also be formed, leading to nitration of aromatic structures in addition to the oxidative deterioration of cellular components. Kupffer cells, the resident macrophages of the liver, play significant roles in immunomodulation, phagocytosis, and biochemical attack. Upon stimulation, liver macrophages release biologically active products related to cell injury, namely, ROS, RNS, and both immunomodulatory and fibrogenic cytokines, with production of chemokines and adhesion molecules by other cells of the liver sinusoid. Iron and copper alter the functional status of Kupffer cells by enhancing their respiratory burst activity without modifying particle phagocytosis. This effect is probably due to extra O2 equivalents used in the oxidation of biomolecules and/or in the activating action of iron/copper on nitric oxide synthase, in addition to those employed by NADPH oxidase activity. Changes in gene expression of Kupffer cells may also be accomplished by iron and copper through modulation of the activity of transcription factors such as NF-κB, which signals the production of cytotoxic, proinflammatory, or fibrogenic mediators. Thus, iron/copper-induced hepatotoxicity is a multifactorial phenomenon underlying actions due to the generation of ROS and RNS that may alter essential biomolecules with loss of their biological functions, modulate gene expression of Kupffer cells with production of cytotoxic mediators, or both.