Extracellular Vesicles from Human Liver Stem Cells Reduce Injury in an Ex Vivo Normothermic Hypoxic Rat Liver Perfusion Model

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The gold standard for organ preservation before transplantation is static cold storage, which is unable to fully protect suboptimal livers from ischemia/reperfusion injury. An emerging alternative is normothermic machine perfusion (NMP), which permits organ reconditioning. Here, we aimed to explore the feasibility of a pharmacological intervention on isolated rat livers by using a combination of NMP and human liver stem cells-derived extracellular vesicles (HLSC-EV).


We established an ex vivo murine model of NMP capable to maintain liver function despite an ongoing hypoxic injury induced by hemodilution. Livers were perfused for 4 hours without (control group, n = 10) or with HLSC-EV (treated group, n = 9). Bile production was quantified; perfusate samples were collected hourly to measure metabolic (pH, pO2, pCO2) and cytolysis parameters (AST, alanine aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase). At the end of perfusion, we assessed HLSC-EV engraftment by immunofluorescence, tissue injury by histology, apoptosis by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling assay, tissue hypoxia-inducible factor 1-α, and transforming growth factor-beta 1 RNA expression by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.


During hypoxic NMP, livers were able to maintain homeostasis and produce bile. In the treated group, AST (P = 0.018) and lactate dehydrogenase (P = 0.032) levels were significantly lower than those of the control group at 3 hours of perfusion, and AST levels persisted lower at 4 hours (P = 0.003). By the end of NMP, HLSC-EV had been uptaken by hepatocytes, and EV treatment significantly reduced histological damage (P = 0.030), apoptosis (P = 0.049), and RNA overexpression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-α (P < 0.0001) and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (P = 0.014).


HLSC-EV treatment, even in a short-duration model, was feasible and effectively reduced liver injury during hypoxic NMP.

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