Xenogeneic extracorporeal liver perfusion (ECLP) has the potential to become an important tool in the management of patients with severe liver failure. We previously showed that xenogeneic pig liver perfusion may be prolonged for up to 9 hours by the administration of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). In this study, we used a canine model of acute liver failure to evaluate the effects of PGE1 on the efficacy of ECLP as a liver-assist device. Liver failure was surgically induced in 12 beagle dogs, with a control group (group 1, n = 4) not connected to the ECLP circuit. Direct cross-circulation between the dogs and the ECLP circuit using a pig liver was performed without (group 2, n = 4) or with (group 3, n = 4) continuous administration of PGE1 through the portal vein of the pig liver. The duration of cross-circulation in group 3 (9.4 ± 1.2 hours) was significantly longer than in group 2 (4.3 ± 1.0 hours). In addition, elevation of blood ammonia, total bile acid, and hyaluronic acid levels was less marked in group 3 compared with the other 2 groups. The ratio of branched-chain amino acids to aromatic amino acids was also improved in group 3. The mean survival time in group 3 (26.6 ± 0.4 hours) was significantly longer than in group 1 (15.5 ± 1.3 hours) or group 2 (17.1 ± 2.9 hours). Continuous administration of PGE1 to xenogeneic ECLP resulted in a significant improvement in both liver function and survival time of dogs with surgically induced liver failure.
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