Lipopolysaccharides in liver injury: molecular mechanisms of Kupffer cell activation

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2002 Aug;283(2):G256-65. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00550.2001.


Endogenous gut-derived bacterial lipopolysaccharides have been implicated as important cofactors in the pathogenesis of liver injury. However, the molecular mechanisms by which lipopolysaccharides exert their effect are not entirely clear. Recent studies have pointed to proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha as mediators of hepatocyte injury. Within the liver, Kupffer cells are major sources of proinflammatory cytokines that are produced in response to lipopolysaccharides. This review will focus on three important molecular components of the pathway by which lipopolysaccharides activate Kupffer cells: CD14, Toll-like receptor 4, and lipopolysaccharide binding protein. Within the liver, lipopolysaccharides bind to lipopolysaccharide binding protein, which then facilitates its transfer to membrane CD14 on the surface of Kupffer cells. Signaling of lipopolysaccharide through CD14 is mediated by the downstream receptor Toll-like receptor 4 and results in activation of Kupffer cells. The role played by these molecules in liver injury will be examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Proteins*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Kupffer Cells / physiology*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Toll-Like Receptors


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • TLR4 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • lipopolysaccharide-binding protein