Endothelial activation is an important feature of many inflammatory diseases and has been implicated as the cause of vascular complications in disorders such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, and transplant rejection. One of the most potent activators of the endothelium is TNF, which can also be expressed by endothelial cells, causing a permanent, autocrine stimulatory signal. To establish a model of continuous endothelial activation and to elucidate the role of endothelial derived TNF in vivo, we generated transgenic mice expressing a noncleavable transmembrane form of TNF under the control of the endothelial-specific tie2 promoter. Adult tie2-transmembrane TNF-transgenic mice developed chronic inflammatory pathology in kidney and liver, characterized by perivascular infiltration of mononuclear cells into these organs. Along with the infiltrate, an up-regulation of the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1, but not E-selectin, in the endothelium was observed. Despite predisposition to chronic inflammation these mice were protected from immune-mediated liver injury in a model of Con A-induced acute hepatitis. Although the blood levels of soluble TNF and IFN-γ were increased in transgenic animals after challenge with Con A, no damage of hepatocytes could be detected, as assessed by the lack of increase in plasma transaminase activities and the absence of TUNEL staining in the liver. We conclude that expression of transmembrane TNF in the endothelium causes continuous endothelial activation, leading to both proinflammatory and protective events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy