Connexin43 (Cx43), a gap junction protein subunit, has been previously detected in Kupffer cells (KCs) during liver inflammation, however, KCs phagocytose cell debris that may include Cx43 protein, which could explain the detection of Cx43 in KCs. We determined that KCs express Cx43 and form gap junctions (GJs) both in vivo and in vitro. In liver sections of animals treated with LPS, Cx43 was detected at ED2+ cells interfaces, indicating formation of GJs between KCs in vivo. In vitro, unstimulated KCs cultures did not form functional GJs, and expressed low levels of Cx43 that showed a diffuse intracellular distribution. In contrast, KCs treated with LPS plus IFN-γ, expressed a greater amount of Cx43 at both, protein and mRNA levels, and showed Cx43 at cell-cell contacts associated with higher dye coupling. In conclusion, activation of KCs in vivo or in vitro resulted in enhanced Cx43 expression levels and formation of GJ that might play relevant roles during liver inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas