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Abstract

Organs from non–heart-beating donors are attractive for use in cell therapy. Understanding the nature of molecular perturbations following reperfusion/reoxygenation will be highly significant for non–heart-beating donor cells. We studied non–heart-beating donor rats for global gene expression with Affymetrix microarrays, hepatic tissue integrity, viability of isolated hepatocytes, and engraftment and proliferation of transplanted cells in dipeptidyl peptidase IV-deficient rats. In non–heart-beating donors, liver tissue was morphologically intact for >24 hours with differential expression of 1, 95, or 372 genes, 4, 16, or 34 hours after death, respectively, compared with heart-beating donors. These differentially expressed genes constituted prominent groupings in ontological pathways of oxidative phosphorylation, adherence junctions, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis, and other discrete pathways. We successfully isolated viable hepatocytes from non–heart-beating donors, especially up to 4 hours after death, although the hepatocyte yield and viability were inferior to those of hepatocytes from heart-beating donors (P < 0.05). Similarly, although hepatocytes from non–heart-beating donors engrafted and proliferated after transplantation in recipient animals, this was inferior to hepatocytes from heart-beating donors (P < 0.05). Gene expression profiling in hepatocytes isolated from non–heart-beating donors showed far greater perturbations compared with corresponding liver tissue, including representation of pathways in focal adhesion, actin cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix–receptor interactions, multiple ligand–receptor interactions, and signaling in insulin, calcium, wnt, Jak-Stat, or other cascades. Conclusion: Liver tissue remained intact over prolonged periods after death in non–heart-beating donors, but extensive molecular perturbations following reperfusion/reoxygenation impaired the viability of isolated hepatocytes from these donors. Insights into molecular changes in hepatocytes from non–heart-beating donors offer opportunities for improving donor cell viability, which will advance the utility of non–heart-beating donor organs for cell therapy or other applications. (HEPATOLOGY 2012)