Absence of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling in the donor organ reduces ischemia and reperfusion injury in a murine liver transplantation model

Liver Transpl. 2007 Oct;13(10):1435-43. doi: 10.1002/lt.21251.


This study analyzes how toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling in the donor organ affects the ischemia and reperfusion injury (IRI) sequel following liver transplantation. Isogenic orthotopic liver transplantations (OLTs) with rearterialization were performed in groups of wild-type (WT) and TLR4 knockout (KO) mice after donor liver preservation in University of Wisconsin solution at 4 degrees C for 24 hours. Unlike WT OLTs, TLR4-deficient OLTs transplanted to either WT or TLR4 KO recipients suffered significantly less hepatocellular damage, as evidenced by serum alanine aminotransferase levels, and histological Suzuki's grading of liver IRI. Disruption of TLR4 signaling in OLTs decreased local neutrophil sequestration, CD4+ T cell infiltration, interferon (IFN)-gamma-inducible protein 10 (CXCL10) and an intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1), as well as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-2, and IFN-gamma, yet increased IL-4 and IL-10 expression. The well-functioning OLTs from TLR4 KO donors revealed attenuated activity of capase-3, and enhanced heme oygenase-1 (HO-1) expression, along with decreased levels of apoptotic endothelial cells/hepatocytes, as compared with WT OLTs with intact TLR4 signaling. Thus, the functional sentinel TLR4 complex in the donor organ plays a key role in the mechanism of hepatic IRI after OLT. Disruption of TLR4 pathway downregulated the early proinflammatory responses and ameliorated hepatic IRI. These results provide the rationale to locally modify innate TLR4 signaling in the donor organ to more efficiently control the adaptive posttransplantation IRI-dependent responses.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Blotting, Western
  • Caspase 3 / genetics
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • DNA / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / etiology
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism*


  • Interleukins
  • Tlr4 protein, mouse
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • DNA
  • Peroxidase
  • Caspase 3