A central role for CD68(+) macrophages in hepatopulmonary syndrome: Reversal by macrophage depletion

Thenappan Thenappan, Ankush Goel, Glenn Marsboom, Yong Hu Fang, Peter T. Toth, Hannah J. Zhang, Hidemi Kajimoto, Zhigang Hong, Jonathan Paul, Christian Wietholt, Jennifer Pogoriler, Lin Piao, Jalees Rehman, Stephen L. Archer

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154 Scopus citations


Rationale: The etiology of hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS), a common complication of cirrhosis, isunknown. Inflammation and macrophage accumulation occur in HPS; however, their importance is unclear. Common bile ductligation (CBDL) creates an accepted model of HPS, allowing us to investigate the cause of HPS. Objectives: We hypothesized that macrophages are centraltoHPS and investigated the therapeutic potential of macrophage depletion. Methods: Hemodynamics, alveolar-arterial gradient, vascular reactivity, and histology were assessedin CBDL versus sham rats (n = 21 per group). The effects of plasma on smooth muscle cell proliferation and endothelial tube formation were measured. Macrophage depletion was used to prevent (gadolinium) or regress (clodronate) HPS. CD68(+) macrophages and capillary density were measured in the lungs of patients with cirrhosis versus control patients (n = 10 per group). Measurements and Main Results: CBDL increased cardiac output and alveolar-arterial gradient by causing capillary dilatation and arteriovenous malformations. Activated CD68(+) macrophages (nuclear factor-κB+) accumulated in HPS pulmonary arteries, drawn by elevatedlevels of plasm a endotoxin and lung monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. These macrophages expressed inducible nitric oxide synthase, vascular endothelial growth factor, and platelet-derived growth factor. HPS plasma increased endothelial tube formation and pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell proliferation. Macrophage depletion prevented and reversed the histological and hemodynamic features of HPS. CBDL lungs demonstrated increased medial thickness and obstruction of small pulmonary arteries. Nitric oxide synthase inhibition unmasked exaggerated pulmonary vasoconstrictor responses in HPS. Patients with cirrhosis had increased pulmonary intravascular macrophage accumulation and capillary density. Conclusions: HPS results from intravascular accumulation of CD68(+) macrophages. An occult proliferative vasculopathy may explain the occasional transition to portopulmonary hypertension. Macrophage depletion may have therapeutic potential in HPS..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1080-1091
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2011


  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Cirrhosis
  • Clodronate
  • Liver transplantation
  • Portopulmonary hypertension


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