Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Donor livers preserved and improved with room-temperature perfusion system


Machine perfusion system may allow use of organs currently unsuitable for transplantation

A system developed by investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Engineering in Medicine (CEM) and the MGH Transplant Center has the potential to increase both the supply and the quality of donor organs for liver transplantation.

In their report, which has been published online in the American Journal of Transplantation, the research team describes how use of a machine perfusion system delivering a supply of nutrients and oxygen though an organ's circulation at room temperature preserved and improved the metabolic function of donor livers in a laboratory study. The system has not yet been tested clinically.

"By the time a donated organ is transplanted, it has sustained significant injury through lack of a blood supply," says Bote Bruinsma, MSc, of the MGH-CEM and Department of Surgery, lead author of the report. "By supporting metabolic function, we can give the liver time to recover, preconditioning it before transplantation. The hope is that, in the near future, livers that currently are considered unsuitable for transplantation will be recovered by more advanced preservation techniques, significantly increasing the number of organs available for transplantation."

... more about:
»MGH »damage »death »liver »metabolic »organs »temperature

The continuing shortage of donor organs has already led to the limited use of organs from donors who do not meet the strict criteria for brain death but in whom death from cardiovascular failure is imminent and organs can be procured soon after death. The quality of organs from such donors is often less than that of organs procured after brain death because of the greater time elapsed between when circulation ceases and when the surgically removed organ is cooled for transportation. The authors note that increased use of such "marginal" organs requires improved methods of preservation beyond simple cold storage, which only slows the process of deterioration.

Several studies have shown that perfusing donor livers with a cold solution can reduce tissue damage, and small clinical trials found evidence that cold-perfusing livers prior to transplantation improved the donor organs' function. But while cold perfusion delays the restoration of the organ's metabolic activity until it is implanted, use of a warm perfusion solution could initiate several aspects of organ recovery before implantation, potentially allowing better assessment of the organ's viability than is currently possible.

Studies of systems perfusing donor livers at body temperature have supported this possibility, but the author notes that rapidly warming and reoxygenating a cold-stored organ – either by perfusion at body temperature or by direct implantation into a recipient – causes further damage to an organ already compromised by the interrupted blood supply. This damage is an even greater concern when marginal organs are used.

The system evaluated in the current study perfuses the organ with a room-temperature (around 70˚ F) solution. Through the New England Organ Bank the investigators acquired seven donor livers – only two donated after brain death – that had been judged unsuitable for transplant for a number of reasons. The organs were connected to the perfusion system via the hepatic artery and portal vein and perfused with a room-temperature solution containing oxygen, vitamins and other nutrients, and antioxidants for three hours following several hours of cold storage.

Analysis of the fluid coming out of the livers during perfusion revealed that the organs were metabolically active – producing bile, albumin and urea – and markers of tissue damage were limited. Levels of the cellular energy molecule ATP in liver tissue actually increased during perfusion, implying that the process could help recover, not just preserve, the organ's function, potentially allowing the safe use of organs currently being discarded.

Bruinsma adds that measuring these and other metabolic signals during perfusion could significantly improve the ability to assess the quality of a donated liver, which is currently done based on limited parameters. "Demonstrating the feasibility of this approach in human livers is an enormous step forward in bringing this technology to clinical application," he explains. "We expect that perfusion systems will revolutionize the way the liver is preserved outside the body, significantly increasing the number of livers available for transplants and saving the lives of potentially thousands of patients." Bruinsma is an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam and visiting graduate student in the MGH Department of Surgery

Korkut Uygun, PhD, of the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine, a co-corresponding author of the report, adds, "We like how simple and straightforward this protocol is. It doesn't involve all the bells and whistles of temperature control or use of blood or similar oxygen carriers, and yet the liver clearly still continues to work and heal itself in this environment, which makes us very optimistic about rapid clinical translation and adoption." Uygun is an assistant professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.


Maria Louisa Izamis, PhD, MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine, is also a co-corresponding author of the American Journal of Transplantation paper. Additional co-authors are Sinan Õzer, Adam Farmer, Wilson Wu, Nima Saeidi, PhD, Tim Berendsen, MD, and Martin Yarmush, MD, PhD, MGH-CEM; Heidi Yeh, MD, and James Markmann, MD, PhD, MGH Transplant Center; Rex N. Smith, MD, PhD, MGH Pathology; Paulo Martins, MD, PhD, UMass Memorial Medical Center; and Sanna Op den Dries and Robert Porte, MD, PhD. University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R00DK080942, R01DK096075 and R01EB008678 and funds from Shriners Hospitals for Children. Patents on the technology described in this report are pending.

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $775 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.

Sue McGreevey | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: MGH damage death liver metabolic organs temperature

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

nachricht Breakthrough in Mapping Nicotine Addiction Could Help Researchers Improve Treatment
04.10.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>