Human umbilical vein endothelial cell killing by activated neutrophils: Loss of sensitivity to injury is accompanied by decreased iron content during in vitro culture and is restored with exogenous iron

J. Varani, M. K. Dame, D. F. Gibbs, C. G. Taylor, J. M. Weinberg, J. Shayevitz, P. A. Ward

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First passage human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were sensitive to killing by activated neutrophils and reagent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Catalase and deferoxamine prevented killing whereas soybean trypsin inhibitor and superoxide dismutase did not. In these regards, HUVECs are similar to previously characterized endothelial cells from bovine and rat. Although first passage HUVECs were killed by activated neutrophils, sensitivity fell off rapidly as the cells were maintained in culture. At passage 2 (four population doublings), and beyond, HUVECs were highly resistant. The cells also became resistant to killing by reagent H2O2. The acquisition of resistance to killing was not accompanied by a failure to up- regulate neutrophil adhesion molecules or to support neutrophil adhesion. Levels of intracellular anti-oxidants (total thiols, though not glutathione, glutathione peroxidase or catalase activity) increased as a function of passage in culture. However, levels of glutathione and total thiols in late passage (resistant) HUVECs were similar to levels in late passage rat pulmonary artery endothelial cells, that were sensitive to killing by activated neutrophils. Cell-associated iron in HUVECs fell as a function of time in culture. By passage 2, the amount of total iron measurable with the Ferrozine reagent was only about 30% of the amount recovered from first passage HUVECs. The loss of iron from the cells may underlie much of the concomitant resistance to killing because when the cells were pretreated with iron under conditions in which it could be taken up, sensitivity to killing by activated neutrophils and by H2O2 was restored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-714
Number of pages7
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1992



  • Anti-Oxidants
  • Iron
  • Oxygen radicals
  • adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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