Key Points

  • High molecular weight kininogen deficiency in mice protects against APAP-induced hepatotoxicity

  • Plasmin-mediated cleavage of high molecular weight kininogen enhances APAP-induced hepatotoxicity independently of bradykinin signaling

Acetaminophen (APAP)-induced liver injury is associated with activation of coagulation and fibrinolysis. In mice, both tissue factor-dependent thrombin generation and plasmin activity have been shown to promote liver injury after APAP overdose. However, the contribution of the contact and intrinsic coagulation pathways has not been investigated in this model. Mice deficient in individual factors of the contact (FXII and PK) or intrinsic coagulation (FXI) pathway were administered a hepatotoxic dose of 400 mg/kg of APAP. Neither FXII, FXI, nor prekallikrein deficiency mitigated coagulation activation or hepatocellular injury. Interestingly, despite the lack of significant changes to APAP-induced coagulation activation, markers of liver injury and inflammation were significantly reduced in APAP-challenged high molecular weight kininogen-deficient (HK-/-) mice. Protective effects of HK deficiency were not reproduced by inhibition of bradykinin-mediated signaling, whereas reconstitution of circulating levels of HK in HK-/- mice restored hepatotoxicity. Fibrinolysis activation was observed in mice after APAP administration. Western blotting, ELISA, and mass spectrometry analysis demonstrated that plasmin efficiently cleaves HK into multiple fragments in buffer or plasma. Importantly, plasminogen deficiency attenuated APAP-induced liver injury and prevented HK cleavage in the injured liver. Finally, enhanced plasmin generation and HK cleavage, in the absence of contact pathway activation, were observed in plasma of patients with acute liver failure due to APAP overdose. In summary, extrinsic, but not intrinsic pathway activation drives the thromboinflammatory pathology associated with APAP-induced liver injury in mice. Furthermore, plasmin mediated cleavage of HK contributes to hepatotoxicity in APAP-challenged mice independently of thrombin generation or bradykinin signaling.

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