Objective: To investigate potential beneficial effects of donor treatment with methylprednisolone on organ function and outcome after liver transplantation.
Summary background data: It is proven experimentally and clinically that the brain death of the donor leads to increased levels of inflammatory cytokines and is followed by an intensified ischemia/reperfusion injury after organ transplantation. In experiments, donor treatment with steroids successfully diminished these effects and led to better organ function after transplantation.
Methods: To investigate whether methylprednisolone treatment of the deceased donor is applicable to attenuate brain death-associated damage in clinical liver transplantation we conducted a prospective randomized treatment-versus-control study in 100 deceased donors. Donor treatment (n = 50) consisted of 250 mg methylprednisolone at the time of consent for organ donation and a subsequent infusion of 100 mg/h until recovery of organs. A liver biopsy was taken immediately after laparotomy and blood samples were obtained after brain death diagnosis and before organ recovery. Cytokines were assessed by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Soluble serum cytokines were measured by cytometric bead array system.
Results: After methylprednisolone treatment, steroid plasma levels were significantly higher (P < 0.05), and a significant decrease in soluble interleukins, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, interleukin-2, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and inducible protein-10 was observed. Methylprednisolone treatment resulted in a significant downregulation of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, major histocompatibility complex class II, Fas-ligand, inducible protein-10, and CD68 intragraft mRNA expression. Significantly ameliorated ischemia/reperfusion injury in the posttransplant course was accompanied by a decreased incidence of acute rejection.
Conclusions: Our present study verifies the protective effect of methylprednisolone treatment in deceased donor liver transplantation, suggesting it as a potential therapeutical approach.