Ammonia is responsible for cerebral edema associated with acute liver failure, but the role of the vasogenic mechanism has been a matter of dispute. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ammonia induces changes in blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability by a mechanism coupled to oxidative/nitrosative stress (ONS) evoked in the BBB-forming cerebral capillary endothelial cells. Treatment of a rat brain endothelial cell line with ammonia (5 mmol/L, 24 h) caused accumulation of ONS markers: reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide and peroxidation products of phospholipid-bound arachidonic acid, F2-isoprostanes. Concurrently, ammonia increased the activity of extracellular matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2/MMP-9), increased cell permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran (40 kDa), and increased the expression of y+LAT2, a transporter that mediates the uptake to the cells of the nitric oxide precursor, arginine. The increase of cell permeability was ameliorated upon co-treatment with a MMP inhibitor, SB-3CT and with an antioxidant, glutathione diethyl ester, which also reduced F2-isoprostanes. Ammonia-induced ONS was attenuated by cytoprotective agents l-ornithine, phenylbutyrate, and their conjugate l-ornithine phenylbutyrate, an ammonia-trapping drug used to treat hyperammonemia. The results support the concept that ONS and ONS-related activation of MMPs in cerebral capillary endothelial cells contribute to the alterations in BBB permeability and to the vasogenic component of cerebral edema associated with acute liver failure.
- blood-brain barrier
- cerebral capillary endothelial cell line
- matrix metalloproteinases
- oxidative/nitrosative stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience