The current drastic shortage of donor organs has led to acceptance of extended-criteria donors for transplantation, despite higher risk of primary nonfunction. Here, we report the impact of subnormothermic machine perfusion (SMP) preservation on the protection of >50% macrosteatotic livers. Dietary hepatic steatosis was induced in Wistar rats via 2-day fasting and subsequent 3-day re-feeding with a fat-free, carbohydrate-rich diet. This protocol induces 50–60% macrovesicular steatosis, which should be discarded when preserved via cold storage (CS). The fatty livers were retrieved and preserved for 4 h using either CS in histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate or SMP in polysol solution. Graft functional integrity was evaluated via oxygenated ex vivo reperfusion for 2 h at 37°C. SMP resulted in significant reductions in not only parenchymal alanine aminotransferase (p < 0.001), but also mitochondrial glutamate dehydrogenase (p < 0.001) enzyme release. Moreover, portal venous pressure (p = 0.047), tissue adenosine triphosphate (p = 0.001), bile production (p < 0.001), high-mobility group box protein-1 (p < 0.001), lipid peroxidation, and tissue glutathione were all significantly improved by SMP. Electron microscopy revealed that SMP alleviated deleterious alterations of sinusoidal microvasculature and hepatocellular mitochondria, both of which are characteristic disadvantages associated with steatosis. SMP could protect 50–60% macrosteatotic livers from preservation/reperfusion injury, and may thus represent a new means for expanding available donor pools.
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