Background. After cold ischemia, electrons transferred in the electron transport chain may leak out of the mitochondria in proportion to the deterioration of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. This seems to be one major cause of the lipid peroxidation that occurs mainly in the hepatocytes at reperfusion in liver transplantation. To examine this hypothesis, we investigated superoxide generation and the amount of oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria isolated from rat livers after cold preservation. Methods. Rat liver was preserved in University of Wisconsin solution at 4°C for 24 hr. The mitochondrial fraction was prepared, and the amount of ATP synthesis and superoxide generation was investigated. Superoxide generation in the electron transport chain of submitochondrial particles was also measured by a chemiluminescence recorder. Results. The amount of ATP synthesis was significantly decreased after 12 hr of cold preservation. In the whole mitochondria, superoxide production in the presence of succinate was approximately 1/2000 to 1/3000 less than that observed in the submitochondrial particles at any determination point, and superoxide production was not affected by cold preservation. In the presence of antimycin A, superoxide production in the mitochondria after 18 hr of preservation increased significantly. Conclusion. These results indicate that the electron transfer in the complex III of the mitochondrial membrane becomes leaky after long periods of cold ischemia, but that leakage of superoxide anion did not increase, although the mitochondrial respiratory phosphorylation was deteriorated. We conclude that superoxide through the mitochondrial membrane cannot cause lipid peroxidation in hepatocytes at reperfusion even after a long period of cold ischemia.
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