Delivering siRNA Compounds During HOPE to Modulate Organ Function: A Proof-of-concept Study in a Rat Liver Transplant Model

Transplantation. 2022 Aug 1;106(8):1565-1576. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000004175. Epub 2022 May 18.


Background: Apoptosis contributes to the severity of ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), limiting the use of extended criteria donors in liver transplantation (LT). Machine perfusion has been proposed as a platform to administer specific therapies to improve graft function. Alternatively, the inhibition of genes associated with apoptosis during machine perfusion could alleviate IRI post-LT. The aim of the study was to investigate whether inhibition of an apoptosis-associated gene (FAS) using a small interfering RNA (siRNA) approach could alleviate IRI in a rat LT model.

Methods: In 2 different experimental protocols, FASsiRNA (500 µg) was administered to rat donors 2 h before organ procurement, followed by 22 h of static cold storage, (SCS) or was added to the perfusate during 1 h of ex situ hypothermic oxygenated perfusion (HOPE) to livers previously preserved for 4 h in SCS.

Results: Transaminase levels were significantly lower in the SCS-FASsiRNA group at 24 h post-LT. Proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin-2, C-X-C motif chemokine 10, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma) were significantly decreased in the SCS-FASsiRNA group, whereas the interleukin-10 anti-inflammatory cytokine was significantly increased in the HOPE-FASsiRNA group. Liver absorption of FASsiRNA after HOPE session was demonstrated by confocal microscopy; however, no statistically significant differences on the apoptotic index, necrosis levels, and FAS protein transcription between treated and untreated groups were observed.

Conclusions: FAS inhibition through siRNA therapy decreases the severity of IRI after LT in a SCS protocol; however the association of siRNA therapy with a HOPE perfusion model is very challenging. Future studies using better designed siRNA compounds and appropriate doses are required to prove the siRNA therapy effectiveness during liver HOPE liver perfusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Liver Transplantation* / methods
  • Organ Preservation / methods
  • Perfusion / methods
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Reperfusion Injury* / genetics
  • Reperfusion Injury* / prevention & control
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*


  • RNA, Small Interfering