Organ transplantation is one of the medical success stories of the 20th century. Transplantation is, however, a victim of its own success with demand for organs far exceeding supply. The ischemia/reperfusion injury associated with organ transplantation is complex with interlinking cellular pathways and cascades. With increasing use of marginal organs and better understanding of the consequences of ischemia/reperfusion, enhanced organ preservation is required. Traditional static cold preservation cannot prevent ischemia/reperfusion injury, the low temperature itself is damaging and viability testing is limited. Donor preconditioning techniques to enhance organ preservation in advance of retrieval are starting to show convergence on several key pathways (HO-1 and cell apoptosis). Microdialysis and bioimpedence techniques may allow viability assessment during cold storage. Hypothermic machine perfusion has a role to play, particularly in preservation of kidneys from non-heart-beating donors although results of clinical trials are awaited. Normothermic preservation offers benefits over cold storage (at least experimentally) by avoiding damage induced by low temperature, minimising ischemia/reperfusion injury and allowing resuscitation of damaged organs. Normothermic preservation is likely to increase as the average quality of donor organs declines and clinical trials are needed. In the long term, normothermic preservation may be used, not just to resuscitate organs, but facilitate organ immunomodulation.
Russell W. Jamieson, Peter J. Friend
Frontiers in Bioscience 13, 221-235, January 1, 2008