Effect of Cold Preservation on Chronic Rejection in a Rat Hindlimb Transplantation Model

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Previous studies on solid organ transplantation have shown that cold ischemia contributes to the development of chronic allograft vasculopathy. The authors evaluated the effect of cold ischemia on the development of chronic rejection in vascularized composite allotransplantation.


Thirty rat hindlimbs were transplanted and divided into two experimental groups: immediate transplantation and transplantation after 7 hours of cold ischemia. The animals received daily low-dose immunosuppression with cyclosporine A for 2 months. Intimal proliferation, arterial permeability rate, leukocyte infiltration, and tissue fibrosis were assessed. The CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, CD20+, and CD68+ cells per microscopic field (200×) were counted, and C4d deposition was investigated. Cytokine RNA analysis was performed to measure tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-10 levels.


Significant differences were found in the intimal proliferation and arterial permeability rate between the two groups (p = 0.004). The arterial permeability rate worsened in the most distal and small vessels (p = 0.047). The numbers of CD3+, CD8+, CD20+, and CD68+ were also statistically higher in the cold ischemia group (p < 0.05, all levels). A trend toward significance was observed with C4d deposition (p = 0.059). No differences were found in the RNA of cytokines.


An association between cold ischemia and chronic rejection was observed in experimental vascularized composite allotransplantation. Chronic rejection intensity and distal progression were significantly related with cold ischemia. The leukocyte infiltrates in vascularized composite allotransplantation components were a rejection marker; however, their exact implication in monitoring and their relation with cold ischemia are yet to be clarified.

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