Current techniques for the preservation of donor livers typically rely on cold temperatures (∼0-4°C) to slow down metabolic processes. Recently, normothermic extracorporeal liver perfusion (NELP) has regained interest as a potentially promising approach for long-term liver preservation. Unlike cold-storage techniques, NELP attempts to maintain the liver in a near physiological environment, thus enabling normal metabolic and tissue repair processes to take place, which may help in the recovery of ischemically damaged and fatty donor livers, both of which represent significant untapped sources of donor livers. However, NELP is technically more complex than cold-storage techniques, and the lack of standardized small animal models limits its development. Here we describe a rat NELP system that is simple and cost-effective to run. We show that rat livers that underwent NELP for 6 h could be routinely transplanted into syngeneic recipient rats with excellent 1-month survival. During perfusion, the release of cytosolic enzymes, bile and urea production, and oxygen uptake rate could be readily monitored, thus providing a comprehensive picture of hepatic function before transplantation. This system will help in the optimization of NELP in several ways, such as for the improvement of perfusion conditions and the development of quantitative metabolic criteria for hepatic viability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology