The aim of this study is to detect and analyze risk factors of direct cross-circulation between porcine liver and non-human primates before a clinical application of extracorporeal liver perfusion (ECLP) as a liver-assist method. Porcine livers were perfused with baboon blood in an ECLP system. Six healthy baboons were directly connected to the ECLP system with continuous prostaglandin E1 administration. Cross-circulation was terminated in the following circumstances: (1) hepatic arterial or portal perfusion pressures elevated to 200 or 60 mm Hg, respectively; (2) massive exudative bleeding from the graft surface; or (3) bile output decreased to less than 5 μL/h/g of liver weight. In case 1, cross-circulation was continued for 10 hours. Severe macroscopic hemolysis occurred, and serum hemoglobin (s-Hb) concentration reached a peak of 47 mg/dL. The baboon died of acute renal failure 2 days later. Histological study of the perfused porcine liver showed marked microthrombi formation. In 3 of the later 5 cases, cross-circulation was discontinued when mild macroscopic hemolysis was observed. The duration of the 5 cross-circulations was maximally 6 hours (mean, 4.4 ± 1.2 [SD] hours). Mean s-Hb concentration in the 5 cases was elevated to 14.8 ± 5.8 mg/dL at the end of cross-circulation and decreased to the baseline level within 24 hours. These 5 baboons survived without organ dysfunction or immunologic disturbance. When severe hemolysis is avoided, direct cross-circulation using the ECLP system can be achieved without serious complications in nonhuman primates.
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