Background: Extrahepatic portal vein obstruction can have severe health consequences. Variceal bleeding associated with this disorder causes upper gastrointestinal bleeding, leading to substantial morbidity and mortality. We report the clinical transplantation of a deceased donor iliac vein graft repopulated with recipient autologous stem cells in a patient with extrahepatic portal vein obstruction.
Methods: A 10 year old girl with extrahepatic portal vein obstruction was admitted to the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, for a bypass procedure between the superior mesenteric vein and the intrahepatic left portal vein (meso Rex bypass). A 9 cm segment of allogeneic donor iliac vein was decellularised and subsequently recellularised with endothelial and smooth muscle cells differentiated from stem cells obtained from the bone marrow of the recipient. This graft was used because the patient's umbilical vein was not suitable and other strategies (eg, liver transplantation) require lifelong immunosuppression.
Findings: The graft immediately provided the recipient with a functional blood supply (25-30 cm/s in the portal vein and 40 mL/s in the artery was measured intraoperatively and confirmed with ultrasound). The patient had normal laboratory values for 9 months. However, at 1 year the blood flow was low and, on exploration, the shunt was patent but too narrow due to mechanical obstruction of tissue in the mesocolon. Once the tissue causing the compression was removed the graft dilated. We therefore used a second stem-cell populated vein graft to lengthen the previous graft. After this second operation, the portal pressure was reduced from 20 mm Hg to 13 mm Hg and blood flow was 25-40 cm/s in the portal vein. With restored portal circulation the patient has substantially improved physical and mental function and growth. The patient has no anti-endothelial cell antibodies and is receiving no immunosuppressive drugs.
Interpretation: An acellularised deceased donor vein graft recellularised with autologous stem cells can be considered for patients in need of vascular vein shunts without the need for immunosuppression.
Funding: Swedish Government.
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