D-dimer Release From Livers During Ex Situ Normothermic Perfusion and After In Situ Normothermic Regional Perfusion: Evidence for Occult Fibrin Burden Associated With Adverse Transplant Outcomes and Cholangiopathy

Transplantation. 2023 Jun 1;107(6):1311-1321. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000004475. Epub 2023 May 23.


Background: Deceased donor livers are prone to biliary complications, which may necessitate retransplantation, and we, and others, have suggested that these complications are because of peribiliary vascular fibrin microthrombi. We sought to determine the prevalence and consequence of occult fibrin within deceased donor livers undergoing normothermic ex situ perfusion (NESLiP) and evaluate a role for fibrinolysis.

Methods: D-dimer concentrations, products of fibrin degradation, were assayed in the perfusate of 163 livers taken after 2 h of NESLiP, including 91 that were transplanted. These were related to posttransplant outcomes. Five different fibrinolytic protocols during NESLiP using alteplase were evaluated, and the transplant outcomes of these alteplase-treated livers were reviewed.

Results: Perfusate D-dimer concentrations were lowest in livers recovered using in situ normothermic regional perfusion and highest in alteplase-treated livers. D-dimer release from donation after brain death livers was significantly correlated with the duration of cold ischemia. In non-alteplase-treated livers, Cox proportional hazards regression analysis showed that D-dimer levels were associated with transplant survival ( P = 0.005). Treatment with alteplase and fresh frozen plasma during NESLiP was associated with significantly more D-dimer release into the perfusate and was not associated with excess bleeding postimplantation; 8 of the 9 treated livers were free of cholangiopathy, whereas the ninth had a proximal duct stricture.

Conclusions: Fibrin is present in many livers during cold storage and is associated with poor posttransplant outcomes. The amount of D-dimer released after fibrinolytic treatment indicates a significant occult fibrin burden and suggests that fibrinolytic therapy during NESLiP may be a promising therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fibrin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Organ Preservation / methods
  • Perfusion / methods


  • fibrin fragment D
  • Fibrin