Comparison of BQ123, Epoprostenol, and Verapamil as Vasodilators During Normothermic Ex Vivo Liver Machine Perfusion

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The optimal vasodilator to avoid hepatic artery vasospasm during normothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (NEVLP) is yet to be determined. We compared safety and efficacy of BQ123 (endothelin1 antagonist), epoprostenol (prostacyclin analogue), and verapamil (calcium channel antagonist).


Livers from porcine heart beating donors were perfused for 3 hours and transplanted into recipient pigs. Four groups were compared: group 1, livers perfused with a dose of 1.25 mg of BQ123 at baseline and at 2 hours of perfusion; group 2, epoprostenol at a continuous infusion of 4 mg/h; group 3, verapamil 2.5 mg at baseline and at 2 hours of perfusion; group 4, no vasodilator used during ex vivo perfusion. Liver injury and function were assessed during perfusion, and daily posttransplantation until postoperative day (POD) 3. All groups were compared with a cold storage group for postoperative graft function.


Hepatic artery flow during NEVLP was significantly higher in BQ123 compared with verapamil, epoprostenol, and no vasodilator-treated livers. Aspartate aminotransferase levels were significantly lower with BQ123 and verapamil compared with epoprostenol and control group during perfusion. Peak aspartate aminotransferase levels were lower in pigs receiving BQ123 and verapamil perfused grafts compared with epoprostenol and control group. International Normalized Ratio, alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin levels were lower in the BQ123 and verapamil groups compared to epoprostenol group. Cold storage group had increased markers of ischemia reperfusion injury and slower graft function recovery compared to machine perfused grafts.


The use of BQ123, epoprostenol, and verapamil during NEVLP is safe. Livers perfused with BQ123 and verapamil have higher hepatic artery flow and reduced hepatocyte injury during perfusion compared with epoprostenol. Hepatic artery flow is significantly reduced in the absence of vasodilators during NEVLP.

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