The central role of the neutrophil in ischaemic/reperfusion injury
A number of in vitro models of the sequential stages of ischaemia/reperfusion injury were examined. Methods were initially developed to examine the adhesion of neutrophils to monolayers of a cultured endothelial cell line (ECV304) after periods of hypoxia and reoxygenation. Neutrophil migration in response to factors secreted by the treated endothelial cells was then assessed. The genesis of an inappropriate oxidative burst by the neutrophil upon exposure to endothelial chemoattractants and adhesion molecules was also measured. Finally to appraise how tissue function might be affected by endothelial cell hypoxia the contractility of vascular smooth muscle was examined. Neutrophil adhesion to ECV304 cells, which had been hypoxic for 4 hours and then reoxygenated for 30 minutes, was significantly increased. This response was probably initiated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by the endothelial cells. Blockage of their production by allopurinol reduced the heightened adhesion. Similarly removal of ROS by superoxide dismutase or catalase also attenuated adhesion. ROS generation in turn caused the release of a soluble factor (s) which induced a conformational change on the neutrophil surface allowing it to bind to the intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) on the endothelial cell. Soluble factor (s) from hypoxia/reoxygenated endothelial cells also had a powerful neutrophil chemoattractant ability. When neutrophils were exposed to both hypoxic/reoxygenated endothelial cells and the soluble factor (s) released by them a large oxidative burst was elicited. This response was greatest immediately after reoxygenation and one hour later was diminishing suggesting at least one of the components involved was labile. Analysis of the supernatant from hypoxic/reoxygenated endothelial cell cultures and studies using inhibitors of secretion suggested platelet activating factor (PAF) may be a major component in this overall sequence of events. Lesser roles for IL-8, TNF and LTB4 were also suggested. The secretory products from hypoxia/reoxygenated endothelial cells also affected smooth muscle contractility having an anti-vasoconstrictor or relaxation property, similar to that exerted by PAF.