Male versus female inflammatory response after brain death model followed by ex vivo lung perfusion

Biol Sex Differ. 2024 Jan 29;15(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s13293-024-00581-8.


Background: Ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) is a useful tool for assessing lung grafts quality before transplantation. Studies indicate that donor sex is as an important factor for transplant outcome, as females present higher inflammatory response to brain death (BD) than males. Here, we investigated sex differences in the lungs of rats subjected to BD followed by EVLP.

Methods: Male and female Wistar rats were subjected to BD, and as controls sham animals. Arterial blood was sampled for gas analysis. Heart-lung blocks were kept in cold storage (1 h) and normothermic EVLP carried out (4 h), meanwhile ventilation parameters were recorded. Perfusate was sampled for gas analysis and IL-1β levels. Leukocyte infiltration, myeloperoxidase presence, IL-1β gene expression, and long-term release in lung culture (explant) were evaluated.

Results: Brain dead females presented a low lung function after BD, compared to BD-males; however, at the end of the EVLP period oxygenation capacity decreased in all BD groups. Overall, ventilation parameters were maintained in all groups. After EVLP lung infiltrate was higher in brain dead females, with higher neutrophil content, and accompanied by high IL-1β levels, with increased gene expression and concentration in the culture medium (explant) 24 h after EVLP. Female rats presented higher lung inflammation after BD than male rats. Despite maintaining lung function and ventilation mechanics parameters for 4 h, EVLP was not able to alter this profile.

Conclusion: In this context, further studies should focus on therapeutic measures to control inflammation in donor or during EVLP to increase lung quality.

Keywords: Brain death; Donor; Ex vivo lung perfusion; Lung; Rat; Sex.

Plain language summary

As there is a shortage of viable lungs for transplantation, methods of lung preservation, such as ex vivo perfusion, are important. This method is a good alternative, as it will not only preserve the lungs, but also enable lung function assessment and treatment of the organs. Studies have showed that lungs from donors of the female sex have greater risk of being rejected, when transplanted to male receptors. However, it’s not certain if sex differences in anatomy, physiology and specially in immune response could interfere with the transplant result. Females do present a greater and more efficient immune response to any hazard, however after brain death this control is lost, producing a great inflammatory response as a result. Therefore, in this study we have investigated in more detail the influence of sex on the effects of brain death followed by the preservation method. Thus, we performed a brain death model in males and females rats and placed their lungs in an ex vivo lung perfusion machine. At the end of the experiment, we analyzed lung ventilation, gas exchange, and inflammatory parameters. The obtained data indicated that overall the lung ventilation and gas exchange is maintained by the ex vivo perfusion machine. Also, that lung inflammation is influenced by the sex of the donor; where the lungs from females present greater inflammation compared to the lungs from males.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Death*
  • Female
  • Lung
  • Lung Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Organ Preservation
  • Perfusion
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar