Manipulation of Lipid Metabolism During Normothermic Machine Perfusion: Effect of Defatting Therapies on Donor Liver Functional Recovery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Yuri L Boteon
  • Joseph Attard
  • Amanda P C S Boteon
  • Gary Reynolds
  • Stefan Hubscher
  • Darius F Mirza
  • Hynek Mergental
  • Ricky H Bhogal

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • University of Birmingham
  • Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust


Strategies to increase the use of steatotic donor livers are required to tackle the mortality on the transplant waiting list. We aimed to test the efficacy of pharmacological enhancement of the lipid metabolism of human livers during ex situ normothermic machine perfusion to promote defatting and improve the functional recovery of the organs. Because of steatosis, 10 livers were discarded and were allocated either to a defatting group that had the perfusate supplemented with a combination of drugs to enhance lipid metabolism or to a control group that received perfusion fluid with vehicle only. Steatosis was assessed using tissue homogenate and histological analyses. Markers for lipid oxidation and solubilization, oxidative injury, inflammation, and biliary function were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunohistochemistry, and in-gel protein detection. Treatment reduced tissue triglycerides by 38% and macrovesicular steatosis by 40% over 6 hours. This effect was driven by increased solubility of the triglycerides (P = 0.04), and mitochondrial oxidation as assessed by increased ketogenesis (P = 0.008) and adenosine triphosphate synthesis (P = 0.01) were associated with increased levels of the enzymes acyl-coenzyme A oxidase 1, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A, and acetyl-coenzyme A synthetase. Concomitantly, defatted livers exhibited enhanced metabolic functional parameters such as urea production (P = 0.03), lower vascular resistance, lower release of alanine aminotransferase (P = 0.049), and higher bile production (P = 0.008) with a higher bile pH (P = 0.03). The treatment down-regulated the expression of markers for oxidative injury as well as activation of immune cells (CD14; CD11b) and reduced the release of inflammatory cytokines in the perfusate (tumor necrosis factor α; interleukin 1β). In conclusion, pharmacological enhancement of intracellular lipid metabolism during normothermic machine perfusion decreased the lipid content of human livers within 6 hours. It also improved the intracellular metabolic support to the organs, leading to successful functional recovery and decreased expression of markers of reperfusion injury.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Liver Transplantation published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1022
Number of pages16
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number7
Early online date28 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019

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