We examined the effects of hypoxia and reoxygenation in isolated, perfused rat livers. Hypoxia induced by a low rate of perfusion led to near anoxia confined to centrilobular regions of the liver lobule. Periportal regions remained normoxic. Within 15 min, anoxic centrilobular hepatocytes developed surface blebs that projected into sinusoids through endothelial fenestrations. Periportal hepatocytes were unaffected. Both scanning and transmission electron microscopy suggested that blebs developed by transformation of preexisting microvilli. Upon reoxygenation by restoration of a high rate of perfusion, blebs disappeared. Other changes included marked shrinkage of hepatocytes, enlargement of sinusoids, and dilation of sinusoidal fenestrations. There was also an abrupt increase in the release of lactate dehydrogenase and protein after reoxygenation, and cytoplasmic fragments corresponding in size and shape to blebs were recovered by filtration of the effluent perfusate. We also studied phalloidin and cytochalasin D, agents that disrupt the cytoskeleton. Both substances at micromolar concentrations caused rapid and profound alterations of cell surface topography. We conclude that hepatic tissue is quite vulnerable to hypoxic injury. The morphological expression of hypoxic injury seems mediated by changes in the cortical cytoskeleton. Reoxygenation causes disappearance of blebs and paradoxically causes disruption of cellular volume control and release of blebs as cytoplasmic fragments. Such cytoplasmic shedding provides a mechanism for selective release of hepatic enzymes by injured liver tissue.

This content is only available as a PDF.