Cold storage is poorly tolerated by kidney grafts retrieved after donation after circulatory death. It has been determined that normothermic ex vivo kidney perfusion (NEVKP) preservation decreases injury by minimizing cold ischemic storage. The impact of NEVKP on warm ischemic injury is unknown.Methods
We compared pig kidneys retrieved after 30 minutes warm ischemia and immediate transplantation (no-preservation) with grafts that were exposed to 30 minutes of warm ischemia plus 8-hour NEVKP or plus 8-hour static cold storage (SCS).Results
After transplantation, the NEVKP group demonstrated lower daily serum creatinine levels indicating better early graft function compared with no-preservation (P = 0.02) or SCS group (P < 0.001). In addition, NEVKP preserved grafts had a significantly lower grade of tubular injury and interstitial inflammation 30 minutes after reperfusion compared to grafts without any storage (injury score, NEVKP 1-2 vs no-preservation, 2-2, P = 0.029; inflammation score, NEVKP, 0-0.5 vs no-preservation, 1-2; P = 0.002), although it did not reach significance level when compared to the SCS group (injury score, 1-2, P = 0.071; inflammation score, 1-1; P = 0.071). Regeneration was assessed 30 minutes after reperfusion by Ki-67 staining. The NEVKP group demonstrated significantly higher number of Ki-67–positive cells: 9.2 ± 3.7 when compared with SCS group (3.9 ± 1.0, P = 0.015) and no-preservation group (4.2 ± 0.7, P = 0.04).Conclusions
In this porcine model of donation after circulatory death kidney transplantation NEVKP reduced kidney injury and improved graft function when compared with no-preservation. The results suggest that NEVKP does not cause additional damage to grafts during the preservation period, but may reverse the negative effects of warm ischemic insult itself and promotes regeneration.