Endothelial cell activation and injury by the terminal pathway of complement is important in various pathobiological processes, including xenograft rejection. Protection against injury by human complement can be induced in porcine endothelial cells (ECs) with IL-4 and IL-13 through metabolic activation. However, despite this resistance, the complement-treated ECs were found to lose membrane permeability control assessed with the small molecule calcein. Therefore, to define the apparent discrepancy of permeability changes vis-à-vis the protection from killing, we now investigated whether IL-4 and IL-13 influence the release of the large cytoplasmic protein lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in ECs incubated with complement or the pore-forming protein melittin. Primary cultures of ECs were pre-treated with IL-4 or IL-13 and then incubated with human serum as source of antibody and complement or melittin. Cell death was assessed using neutral red. Membrane permeability was quantitated measuring LDH release. We found that IL-4-/IL-13-induced protection of ECs from killing by complement or melittin despite loss of LDH in amounts similar to control ECs. However, the cytokine-treated ECs that were protected from killing rapidly regained effective control of membrane permeability. Moreover, the viability of the protected ECs was maintained for at least 2 days. We conclude that the protection induced by IL-4/IL-13 in ECs against lethal attack by complement or melittin is effective and durable despite severe initial impairment of membrane permeability. The metabolic changes responsible for protection allow the cells to repair the membrane injury caused by complement or melittin.
- endothelial cells