Swelling, reductive stress, and cell death during chemical hypoxia in hepatocytes

G. J. Gores, C. E. Flarsheim, T. L. Dawson, A. L. Nieminen, B. Herman, J. J. Lemasters

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146 Scopus citations


In rat hepatocytes, we examined the relationship between cell volume, bleb formation, and loss of cell viability during chemical hypoxia with KCN plus iodoacetic acid. In hypotonic media (150-200 mosmol/kgH2O), cells swelled to a greater extent during chemical hypoxia than in isotonic media, but rates of cell killing were identical. Sucrose (300 mM) added to isotonic media prevented early cell swelling but actually accelerated cell killing. In contrast, mannitol (300 mM) improved cell survival but did not prevent cell swelling. Bleb formation occurred regardless of buffer tonicity. The antioxidants desferrioxamine and cyanidanol but not superoxide dismutase ± catalase delayed lethal cell injury. Cell killing was greater during aerobic compared with anaerobic chemical hypoxia. Hydroperoxide formation was measured using a dichlorofluorescin assay and was accelerated during aerobic but not anaerobic chemical hypoxia. The results indicate that cell swelling is not the driving force for bleb formation or lethal cell injury. We conclude that 'reductive stress' caused by respiratory inhibition favors formation of toxic oxygen species and may contribute to lethal cell injury during intermittent or incomplete oxygen deprivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26/2
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989


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