The detrimental role of platelets in sinusoidal endothelial cell (SEC) injury during liver transplantation (LT) has been previously addressed after static cold storage (SCS), however, it is currently unknown after normothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (NEVLP).
Pig LT was performed with livers from heart-beating donors or donation after circulatory death (DCD) donors subjected to SCS or NEVLP (n = 5/group).
All pigs except for 1 (DCD-SCS-group) survived 4 days. The heart-beating donor- and DCD-NEVLP-groups showed significantly lower aspartate transaminase-levels compared with the SCS-groups 3 hours post-LT (P = 0.006), on postoperative day (POD) 2 (P = 0.005), POD3 (P = 0.007), and on POD4 (P = 0.012). Post-LT total platelet count recovered faster in the NEVLP than in the SCS-groups at 12 hours (P = 0.023) and 24 hours (P = 0.0038). Intrahepatic sequestration of platelets was significantly higher in the SCS-groups 3 hours postreperfusion and correlated with severity of SEC injury. In both SCS-groups, levels of tumor growth factor-β were higher 3 hours post-LT, on POD1 and on POD3. Moreover, platelet factor 4 levels and platelet-derived extracellular vesicles were increased in the SCS-groups. Hyaluronic acid levels were significantly higher in the SCS-groups, indicating a higher grade of endothelial cell dysfunction. Platelet inhibition achieved by pretreatment with clopidogrel (n = 3) partly reversed the detrimental effects on SEC injury and therefore provided further evidence of the important role of platelets in ischemia/reperfusion injury and SEC injury.
Normothermic perfusion of liver grafts before transplantation effectively reduced platelet aggregation and SEC injury, which translated into an improved posttransplant organ function.