Characterizing the early inflammatory contribution of the donor kidney following reperfusion

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2017 Sep 1;32(9):1487-1492. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfw464.


Background: Donor kidneys contain a large reservoir of passenger leucocytes that contribute to acute rejection via direct alloantigen presentation and pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. However, the early contribution of these cells following revascularization has not previously been described. We performed a secondary, high-volume preservation flush following cold storage to characterize the inflammatory contribution of the donor kidney upon reperfusion.

Methods: Porcine kidneys were retrieved using a protocol analogous to current UK clinical practice. Following 2 h of cold static preservation, kidneys underwent a secondary flush with Ringer's solution. The venous effluent was collected and leucocytes phenotyped via flow cytometry. Inflammatory mediators, including cytokines and cell-free DNA, were then assessed to determine the inflammatory contribution of the donor kidney.

Results: Upon reperfusion, a significant population of donor-derived CD45 + leucocytes mobilized from the renal vasculature via the renal vein [mean 4.738 × 10 8 (SD 1.348 × 10 8 )]. Within this population, T cells were dominant, representing >60% of the leucocyte repertoire. Granulocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells were also identified, but in comparatively lower numbers. Significant concentrations of cytokines and cell-free DNA were also eluted upon reperfusion.

Conclusions: The donor kidney contains a significant immune load that rapidly mobilizes following reperfusion. Performing a secondary preservation flush prior to implantation may reduce this inflammatory burden via diversion of donor leucocytes and inflammatory mediators from entry into the recipient circulation. This may modulate direct presentation and reduce the inflammatory contribution of the donor kidney following transplantation.

Keywords: acute rejection; immunogenicity; kidney transplantation; passenger leucocyte; preservation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney / immunology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney Transplantation / methods*
  • Organ Preservation / methods*
  • Reperfusion*
  • Swine
  • Tissue Donors*


  • Cytokines