Increasing circulating sphingosine-1-phosphate attenuates lung injury during ex vivo lung perfusion

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Sphingosine-1-phosphate regulates endothelial barrier integrity and promotes cell survival and proliferation. We hypothesized that upregulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate during ex vivo lung perfusion would attenuate acute lung injury and improve graft function.


C57BL/6 mice (n = 4-8/group) were euthanized, followed by 1 hour of warm ischemia and 1 hour of cold preservation in a model of donation after cardiac death. Subsequently, mice underwent 1 hour of ex vivo lung perfusion with 1 of 4 different perfusion solutions: Steen solution (Steen, control arm), Steen with added sphingosine-1-phosphate (Steen + sphingosine-1-phosphate), Steen plus a selective sphingosine kinase 2 inhibitor (Steen + sphingosine kinase inhibitor), or Steen plus both additives (Steen + sphingosine-1-phosphate + sphingosine kinase inhibitor). During ex vivo lung perfusion, lung compliance and pulmonary artery pressure were continuously measured. Pulmonary vascular permeability was assessed with injection of Evans Blue dye.


The combination of 1 hour of warm ischemia, followed by 1 hour of cold ischemia created significant lung injury compared with lungs that were immediately harvested after circulatory death and put on ex vivo lung perfusion. Addition of sphingosine-1-phosphate or sphingosine kinase inhibitor alone did not significantly improve lung function during ex vivo lung perfusion compared with Steen without additives. However, group Steen + sphingosine-1-phosphate + sphingosine kinase inhibitor resulted in significantly increased compliance (110% ± 13.9% vs 57.7% ± 6.6%, P < .0001) and decreased pulmonary vascular permeability (33.1 ± 11.9 μg/g vs 75.8 ± 11.4 μg/g tissue, P = .04) compared with Steen alone.


Targeted drug therapy with a combination of sphingosine-1-phosphate + sphingosine kinase inhibitor during ex vivo lung perfusion improves lung function in a murine donation after cardiac death model. Elevation of circulating sphingosine-1-phosphate via specific pharmacologic modalities during ex vivo lung perfusion may provide endothelial protection in marginal donor lungs leading to successful lung rehabilitation for transplantation.

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