Metabolic preconditioning of donor organs: Defatting fatty livers by normothermic perfusion ex vivo

Deepak Nagrath, Hongzhi Xu, Yoko Tanimura, Rongjun Zuo, François Berthiaume, Marco Avila, Rubin Yarmush, Martin L. Yarmush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Fatty liver is a significant risk factor for liver transplantation, and accounts for nearly half of the livers rejected from the donor pool. We hypothesized that metabolic preconditioning via ex vivo perfusion of the liver graft can reduce fat content and increase post-transplant survival to an acceptable range. We describe a perfusate medium containing agents that promote the defatting of hepatocytes and explanted livers. Defatting agents were screened on cultured hepatocytes made fatty by pre-incubation with fatty acids. The most effective agents were then used on fatty livers. Fatty livers were isolated from obese Zucker rats and normothermically perfused with medium containing a combination of defatting agents. This combination decreased the intracellular lipid content of cultured hepatocytes by 35% over 24 h, and of perfused livers by 50% over 3 h. Metabolite analysis suggests that the defatting cocktail upregulated both lipid oxidation and export. Furthermore, gene expression analysis for several enzymes and transcription factors involved in fatty acid oxidation and triglyceride clearance were elevated. We conclude that a cocktail of defatting agents can be used to rapidly clear excess lipid storage in fatty livers, thus providing a new means to recondition donor livers deemed unacceptable or marginally acceptable for transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • Hepatocytes
  • Liver transplantation
  • Normothermic perfusion
  • Nuclear receptors
  • Steatosis


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