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Abstract

Endothelial injury occurs as a result of oxygen free radical production after ischemia and reperfusion of transplanted livers, causing hemodynamic disturbance. Patients with chronic liver disease generally have low levels of fat-soluble vitamins, which have important antioxidant roles. We therefore assessed circulating levels of the antioxidants vitamin A, vitamin E, β-carotene and lycopene, indices of lipid peroxidation and hemodynamic changes during elective orthotopic liver transplantation in 12 patients. We found that initial antioxidant levels were severely depleted compared with healthy subjects, and in some patients carotene and lycopene levels were undetectable. Increased lipid peroxidation was also evident, as shown by thiobarbituric acid–reactive substances. On reperfusion of the liver graft, vitamin A and E levels fell (p < 0.01) and were associated with decreases in systemic vascular resistance (p < 0.02). These data show that patients undergoing liver transplant have lowered antioxidant defenses and evidence of free radical damage, which compound the additional insult of reperfusion injury. Antioxidant therapy in these patients before transplantation may ameliorate the effects of reperfusion. (Hepatology 1994;19:354–359).