Effect of C1-INH on ischemia/reperfusion injury in a porcine limb ex vivo perfusion model
Revascularization of an amputated limb within 4–6 h is essential to avoid extensive ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury leading to vascular leakage, edema and tissue necrosis. I/R injury is a pathological inflammatory condition that occurs during reperfusion of an organ or tissue after prolonged ischemia. It is characterized by a complex crosstalk between endothelial cell activation and the activation of plasma cascades. Vasculoprotective pharmacological intervention to prevent I/R injury might be an option to prolong the time window between limb amputation and successful replantation. We used C1-easterase inhibitor (C1-INH) in this study because of its known inhibitory effects on the activation of the complement, coagulation and kinin cascades. Forelimbs of 8 large white pigs were amputated, subjected to ischemia, and then reperfused with autologous whole blood. All limbs were exposed to 9 h of cold ischemia at 4 °C. After 2 h of cold ischemia the limbs were either perfused with of C1-INH (1U/ml in hydroxyethyl starch, n = 8) or hydroxyethyl starch alone (n = 7). After completion of the 9-h ischemia period, all limbs were ex vivo perfused with heparinized autologous whole blood for 12 h using a pediatric heart lung machine to simulate in vivo revascularization. Our results show that I/R injury in the control group led to a significant elevation of tissue deposition of IgG and IgM, complement C3b/c, C5b-9 and MBL. Also, activation of the kinin system was significantly increased, namely bradykinin in plasma, and expression of bradykinin receptors 1 and 2 in tissue. In addition, markers for endothelial integrity like expression of CD31, VE-cadherin and heparan sulfate proteoglycans were decreased in reperfused tissue. Limb I/R injury also led to activation of the coagulation cascade with a significant elevation of fibrin and thrombin deposition and increased fibrinogen-like protein-2 expression. C1-INH treated limbs showed much less activation of plasma cascades and better protection of endothelial integrity compared to the reperfused control limbs. In conclusion, the use of the cytoprotective drug C1-INH significantly reduced I/R injury by protecting the vascular endothelium as well as the muscle tissue from deposition of immunoglobulins, complement and fibrin.