Background: To resolve the shortage of donors associated with liver transplantation, the potential uncontrolled non-heart-beating donor (UNHBD) pool is expected to increase. However, warm ischemia-reperfusion injury leads to inferior survival in transplantation using the grafts from UNHBD compared with those from heart-beating donors. To overcome this problem, we developed a new method for preparation of liver grafts from UNHBDs consisting of a combination of short oxygenated warm perfusion (SOWP) and prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). Methods: Using an ex vivo perfusion rat model, we examined the effectiveness of this new method. Results: Using SOWP and PGE1 treatment, the total amount of bile production during reperfusion in UNHBD grafts was increased to the same level as that in the heart-beating donor grafts. The addition of PGE1 to SOWP buffer decreased aspartate aminotransferase/alanine aminotransferase and tumor necrosis factor α levels during 1 h of reperfusion. Necrosis and apoptosis were significantly decreased by SOWP + PGE1 treatment. SOWP + PGE1 ameliorated induction of mitochondrial permeability transition, and the total amount of mitochondrial cytochrome c in the SOWP + PGE1 group after reperfusion was kept significantly higher than that in the no treatment group. Cytosolic c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase activation was significantly suppressed by SOWP + PGE1. Decrease in mitochondrial Bcl-2 was suppressed by SOWP alone and SOWP + PGE1 treatment, and Bax in the mitochondria was significantly suppressed by SOWP + PGE1. Conclusion: SOWP and PGE1 prior to cold preservation significantly improved the function of liver grafts that underwent warm ischemia-reperfusion injury. Therefore, this method might be useful in liver transplantation using UNHBD grafts.
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