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Abstract

The major cause of the increased tissue-type plasminogen activator activity during orthotopic liver transplantation is still unclear. Both the lack of hepatic clearance of tissue-type plasminogen activator in the anhepatic period and increased endothelial release from the graft on reperfusion have been proposed as the major causes. Heterotopic liver transplantation avoids the resection of the host liver and is a useful model to help differentiate between these two possibilities. In this study the fibrinolytic system was evaluated in 10 orthotopic liver transplantations, 18 heterotopic liver transplantations and a control group of 10 partial hepatic resections.

A marked increment in tissue-type plasminogen activator activity, from 0.2 to 5.2 IU/ml (p <0.02), was observed during the anhepatic period of orthotopic liver transplantation, which rapidly normalized after reperfusion. In contrast, tissue-type plasminogen activator activity levels remained normal in heterotopic liver transplantation and partial hepatic resections. In orthotopic liver transplantation and in heterotopic liver transplantation no increase occurred in tissue-type plasminogen activator activity after reperfusion. The first venous hepatic outflow after reperfusion did not contain elevated tissue-type plasminogen activator activity levels. Plasma degradation products of fibrin and fibrinogen increased during the anhepatic period of orthotopic liver transplantation (from 2.60 to 8.80 μg/ml [p <0.008] and from 0.40 to 1.60 μg/ml [p <0.04], respectively) and remained elevated thereafter. In heterotopic liver transplantation and partial hepatic resections these levels remained low.

In conclusion, the lack of hepatic clearance during the anhepatic period is probably the most important factor in the evolution of increased tissue-type plasminogen activator activity during orthotopic liver transplantation. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;16:404–408.)