The biological effects of monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP) 1 are mediated by binding to C-C chemokine receptor (CCR) 2. In the present studies, we used CCR2 knockout (CCR2-/-) mice to examine the role of MCP-1 in acetaminophen-induced macrophage accumulation in the liver, expression of inflammatory cytokines, and hepatotoxicity. We found that hepatic expression of CCR2 and MCP-1 was increased 10-fold and 20-fold, respectively, 12 to 72 hours after administration of acetaminophen to wild-type mice. Expression of these proteins was localized in centrilobular regions of the liver. Whereas MCP-1 was expressed by both hepatocytes and macrophages, CCR2 was identified in inflammatory macrophages. F4/80 is a marker of mature macrophages expressed in large quantities by Kupffer cells. In wild-type mice, a 75% decrease in F4/80-positive macrophages was observed 24 to 48 hours after administration of acetaminophen. In contrast, expression of macrosialin (CD68), a marker of activated macrophages, increased 2-fold 24 to 72 hours after administration of acetaminophen and was associated with inflammatory cells. Although there was a decrease in the overall severity of inflammation and in the number of macrosialin-positive macrophages 72 hours after administration of acetaminophen in CCR2-/- mice, the number of F4/80-positive cells did not change. Loss of CCR2 was also found to alter acetaminophen-induced expression of tumor necrosis factor α, monocyte chemoattractant protein 3, and KC/gro. However, the overall outcome of acetaminophen-induced hepatic injury was not affected. In conclusion, these data indicate that MCP-1 and CCR2 contribute to the recruitment of a subset of activated macrophages into the liver during acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity that may be important in resolution of tissue injury.
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