Twenty-four-hour normothermic perfusion of isolated ex vivo hearts using plasma exchange

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Jul;164(1):128-138. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2020.11.158. Epub 2020 Dec 13.


Objective: Cross-circulation of plasma from a paracorporeal animal allows successful ex vivo heart perfusion (EVHP) for 3 days. Little is known about the feasibility of prolonged EVHP without a paracorporeal animal. These experiments evaluated plasma exchange (PX) that infuses fresh plasma, whereas an equal amount is removed to replace paracorporeal cross-circulation.

Methods: Ten hearts were procured from 8 to 10 kg piglets and maintained with EVHP. The EVHP circuit was primed with platelet- and leukocyte-reduced blood. Plasma obtained from stored porcine blood (4°C for ≤7 days) was infused and removed with a plasma separator at 1 mL/h/g cardiac tissue (n = 5) in the PX group. Controls (n = 5) used the same EVHP without PX. Antegrade aortic perfusion was adjusted to reach physiologic coronary flow of 0.7 to 1.2 mL/min/g, normothermia (37°C), and hemoglobin ≥8 g/dL. Viability was assessed by hemodynamic metrics, metabolic assays, and histopathology.

Results: All PX hearts remained viable for 24 hours compared with only 1 control (P = .015). Coronary resistance was higher in the PX versus controls (1.06 ± 0.06 mm Hg/mL/min; 0.58 ± 0.02 mm Hg/mL/min [P < .05]). Lactate levels were lower in PX (2.8-4.2 mmol/L) versus controls (3.6-7.6 mmol/L) (P < .05). PX demonstrated a trend toward preservation of left ventricle systolic pressure (63.0 ± 10.9 mm Hg) versus controls (37 ± 22.0 mm Hg) (P > .05). In mixed effect models, oxygen consumption was higher with PX (P < .05). Histopathologic evaluation confirmed extensive myocardial degeneration and worse interstitial edema in controls.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that EVHP can be successfully maintained for at least 24 hours using continuous PX. This eliminates the need for a paracorporeal animal and provides an important step toward clinical application.

Keywords: extracorporeal; ex vivo heart perfusion; heart transplantation; normothermic perfusion; plasma exchange.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Organ Preservation* / methods
  • Perfusion / adverse effects
  • Perfusion / methods
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Swine