Electron Transport Chain Inhibition to Decrease Injury in Transplanted Donation After Circulatory Death Rat Hearts

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2023 Jun 1;81(6):389-391. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0000000000001424.


Donation after circulatory death (DCD) donor hearts sustain ischemic damage and are not routinely used for heart transplantation. DCD heart injury, particularly reperfusion injury, is primarily mediated by releasing reactive oxygen species from the damaged mitochondria (complex I of the electron transport chain). Amobarbital (AMO) is a transient inhibitor of complex I and is known to reduce releasing reactive oxygen species generation. We studied the beneficial effects of AMO in transplanted DCD hearts. Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to 4 groups-DCD or DCD + AMO donors and control beating-heart donors (CBD) or CBD + AMO donors (n = 6-8 each). Anesthetized rats were connected to a ventilator. The right carotid artery was cannulated, heparin and vecuronium were administered. The DCD process started by disconnecting the ventilator. DCD hearts were procured after 25 minutes of in-vivo ischemia, whereas CBD hearts were procured without ischemia. At procurement, all donor hearts received 10 mL of University of Wisconsin cardioplegia solution. The CBD + AMO and DCD + AMO groups received AMO (2 mM) dissolved in cardioplegia. Heterotopic heart transplantation was performed by anastomosing the donor aorta and pulmonary artery to the recipient's abdominal aorta and inferior vena cava. After 14 days, transplanted heart function was measured with a balloon tip catheter placed in the left ventricle. Compared with CBD hearts, DCD hearts had significantly lower developed pressure. AMO treatment significantly improved cardiac function in DCD hearts. Treatment of DCD hearts at the time of reperfusion with AMO resulted in an improvement of transplanted heart function that was comparable with the CBD hearts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Death
  • Electron Transport
  • Heart Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Heart Transplantation* / methods
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Tissue Donors


  • Reactive Oxygen Species