Mechanisms of injury in porcine livers perfused with blood of patients with fulminant hepatic failure

Bradley H. Collins, Ravi S. Chari, John C. Magee, Robert C. Harland, Bonnie J. Lindman, John S. Logan, R. Randal Bollinger, William C. Meyers, Jeffrey L. Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Hyperacute rejection of renal and cardiac xenografts is initiated by the reaction of recipient natural antibodies and complement with endothelial cell antigens of the donor organ. The liver is thought to be less susceptible to this form of rejection; however, the mechanisms underlying its decreased susceptibility are not known. We investigated the organ injury occurring in porcine livers perfused with blood from 4 human subjects with fulminant hepatic failure. Nine porcine livers were perfused via an extracorporeal circuit in order to provide temporary metabolic support. Each porcine liver exhibited metabolic function, and the duration of xenoperfusion ranged from 2 to 5 hr. Histologic examination of the xenoperfused livers revealed focal hepatocellular necrosis, prominent infiltration of neutrophils, and, in 7 of 9 cases, periportal and centrilobular hemorrhage and thrombosis. Immu-nopathology demonstrated minimal or no human IgM and IgG along the small vessels and sinusoidal surfaces. Trace deposits of human IgM were observed along the luminal surfaces of large blood vessels in most cases. Trace deposits of C3 were noted in 2 of 9 livers; however, C4, iC3b, C5b, properdin, and the membrane attack complex were not detected. Human anti-porcine natural antibody titers decreased less than expected during the perfusions. Serum CH50, C3, and C4 levels were low before each procedure and decreased slightly with perfusion. One patient perfused 2 porcine livers and a human liver. The human liver had focal hepatocellular necrosis, trace deposits of IgM, no deposits of complement, and an infiltrate consisting of neutrophils; however, the neutrophil influx was less than that observed in the xenoperfused livers. To further evaluate the effects of alloperfusion, veno-venous bypass was established in 2 pigs and the extra-corporeal circuit was utilized to perfuse 2 porcine livers. The alloperfused porcine livers had focal hepatocellular necrosis and a minimal infiltrate of neutrophils. There were no deposits of porcine IgM, IgG, or complement components. In conclusion, although the porcine livers perfused by human blood sustained structural damage, the time course, the absence of immune deposits, and the findings of similar, albeit less severe, lesions in the alloperfused livers suggest that the pathogenesis of tissue injury in the xenoperfused livers differs from that of hyperacute rejection and may be related to the action of recipient neutrophils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1171
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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