Background: During donor organ procurement and subsequent static cold storage (SCS), hepatic adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels are progressively depleted, which contributes to ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). We sought to investigate a simple approach to prevent ATP depletion and IRI using a porcine donation after circulatory death (DCD) liver reperfusion model.
Methods: After 30 min warm ischemia, porcine livers were flushed via the portal vein with cold (4 degrees C) non-oxygenated University of Wisconsin (UW) preservation solution (n = 6, control group) or with oxygenated UW (n = 6, OxyFlush group). Livers were then subjected to 4 h SCS in non-oxygenated (control) or oxygenated (OxyFlush) UW, followed by 4 h normothermic reperfusion using whole blood. Hepatic ATP levels were compared, and hepatobiliary function and injury were assessed.
Results: At the end of SCS, ATP was higher in the OxyFlush group compared to controls (delta ATP of +0.26 vs. -0.68 mu mol/g protein, p = 0.04). All livers produced bile and metabolized lactate, and there were no differences between the groups. Grafts in the OxyFlush group had lower blood glucose levels after reperfusion (p = 0.04). Biliary pH, glucose and bicarbonate were not different between the groups. Injury markers including liver transaminases, lactate dehydrogenase, malondialdehyde, cell-free DNA and flavin mononucleotide in the SCS solution and during reperfusion were also similar. Histological assessment of the parenchyma and bile ducts did not reveal differences between the groups.
Conclusion: Oxygenated flush out and storage of DCD porcine livers prevents ATP depletion during ischemia, but this does not seem sufficient to mitigate early signs of IRI.