ABSTRACT: To study normothermic extracorporeal liver perfusion (NELP) as a means to preserve livers for transplantation and to reverse warm ischemic injury.
The authors provide experimental evidence that successful transplantation after 4 hours of normothermic extracorporeal liver perfusion is possible and as reliable as 4 hours of cold preservation in University of Wisconsin solution. NELP preserves liver function completely and can reverse 60 minutes of warm ischemic injury in non-heart-beating donors.
Thirty-six German Landrace pigs received transplants in six groups. Group 1 animals received direct transplantation. Group 2 received transplants after 4 hours of cold preservation with University of Wisconsin solution and Group 3 animals after 4 hours of NELP. Group 4 animals sustained 1 hour of warm ischemia before transplantation. Group 5 animals received transplants after 1 hour of warm ischemia and 4 hours of cold preservation and Group 6 animals after 1 hour of warm ischemia and 4 hours of NELP.
All animals receiving livers treated by NELP survived more than 7 days after the transplant (Groups 3 and 6). In contrast, all animals in Group 5 developed primary graft nonfunction within 24 hours after transplantation.
The technique of NELP holds the potential to keep a mammalian liver outside the body completely functional, possibly for more than 4 hours. NELP can be used for liver preservation before transplantation or for the use of organs from non-heart-beating donors.
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