By using the intravital microscope equipped with digital imaging processor, we investigated the granulocyte-mediated oxidative burst during the endotoxin-induced microvascular derangement in rat mesentery. The leukocyte behavior after the injection of acridine orange was detected by using a silicon-intensified target camera, the erythrocyte velocity was measured by using a high-speed video camera system, and the luminol-dependent photoemission was visualized by an ultrasensitive photon-counting camera in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated micro-vascular beds. At 60 min after the LPS administration, a significant leakage of FITC-labeled albumin was observed along mesenteric venules under a fluorescence microscopy. The number of sticking leukocytes increased in association with the decrease in erythrocyte velocity after starting the LPS infusion. The luminol-dependent chemiluminescence in microvascular beds gradually increased over that recorded prior to LPS exposure and was fourfold higher 60 min after the start of LPS infusion. The distribution of the photoemission clearly corresponded to the venular endothelium, to which leukocytes adhered. In blood samples taken from the mesenteric vein at 60 min after the LPS administration, a decrease in the number of granulocytes and increases of total and individual chemiluminescence activities were observed. These results suggest that LPS induces oxidative burst from granulocytes on the venular endothelium. Cetraxate, an inhibitor of proteases including plasmin, significantly inhibited the leukocyte activation and prevented alterations in microvascular hemodynamics induced by LPS in vivo, whereas it had no effect on the LPS-induced oxyradical generation from adherent leukocytes in vitro. The present study demonstrates that proteases such as plasmin may play an important role in the pathogenesis of endotoxin-induced microvascular disturbances.
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