Hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (HOPE) for fatty liver grafts in rats and humans

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Background & Aims Pretreatment of marginal organs by perfusion is a promising opportunity to make more organs available for transplantation. Protection of human donation after cardiac death (DCD) livers by a novel machine perfusion technique, hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (HOPE), was recently established. Herein, we tested whether HOPE is also useful for fatty liver grafts, using a rodent transplant model. Methods Rats were fed over three weeks with a special methionine-choline-deficient diet (MCDD) to induce severe hepatic macrosteatosis (≥60%). Afterwards, livers were transplanted with either minimal or 12 h cold storage. Additional liver grafts were treated after 12 h cold storage with 1 h HOPE before transplantation. Graft injury after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) was assessed in terms of oxidative stress, damage-associated molecular patterns release, toll-like receptor-4 activation, cytokine release, endothelial activation, and the development of necrosis and fibrosis. Results Implantation of cold stored macrosteatotic liver grafts induced massive reperfusion injury after OLT, compared to controls (non-fatty livers). HOPE treatment after cold storage failed to change the degree of steatosis itself, but markedly decreased reperfusion injury after OLT, as detected by less oxidative stress, less nuclear injury, less Kupffer- and endothelial cell activation, as well as less fibrosis within one week after OLT. Protective effects were lost in the absence of oxygen in the HOPE perfusate. Conclusion HOPE after cold storage of fatty livers prevents significant reperfusion injury and improves graft function, comparable to the effects of HOPE in DCD livers and DCD kidneys. HOPE treatment is easy and may become a universal concept to further expand the donor pool. Lay summary An increasing number of donor livers contain fat. It is important to harness marginal livers, which may contain fat, as the stock of donor livers is limited. Hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (HOPE) prevents reperfusion injury and improves liver graft function. HOPE offers a simple and low-cost option for treating liver grafts in transplant centers, even after cold storage, instead of transporting machines to the place of procurement. HOPE could be used globally to expand the donor pool.




Kron, P., Schlegel, A., Mancina, L., Clavien, P. A., & Dutkowski, P. (2018). Hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (HOPE) for fatty liver grafts in rats and humans. Journal of Hepatology, 68(1), 82–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2017.08.028

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