• Pancreas transplantation;
  • Ischemic preconditioning;
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury;
  • Intravital microscopy;
  • Microcirculation;
  • Apoptosis

Abstract Brief periods of warm ischemia and subsequent short reperfusion before either long-term cold or warm ischemic insult (ischemic preconditioning, IPC) have proven to ameliorate ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury in various organs, such as the liver and lung. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of IPC on pancreatic cell apoptosis and microcirculatory impairments in experimental pancreas transplantation. Male Lewis rats served as donors and recipients of heterotopic syngeneic pancreaticoduodenal transplantation. Recipient animals were divided into two experimental groups: group Tx (n= 7) received grafts without IPC, group Tx&IPC received grafts with IPC. Animals that had not undergone transplantation but whose pancreata had been exteriorized served as controls (n= 5). All pancreatic grafts were preserved in University of Wisconsin solution for 6 h at 4°C. IPC was induced by interruption of the arterial blood flow for 10 min followed by 10 min of reperfusion. One and two hours after reperfusion, graft microcirculation was assessed by means of intravital microscopy (IVM). Rats were immediately killed after the second measurement and DNA breaks of acinar cells were detected by in situ terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate digoxigenin nick end-labelling (TUNEL) assay and gel electrophoresis (laddering). The apoptotic index (AI) was defined as the number of apoptotic cells per high-power field. Analysis of both groups of transplanted grafts showed a significant decrease in functional capillary density (FCD) and a significant increase in leukocyte sticking to postcapillary venules (LAV) at 1 h and 2 h of reperfusion, compared with animals that had not undergone transplantation (P<0.01). In parallel, AI was significantly increased in transplanted grafts compared to the controls (P<0.01). Grafts subjected to IPC showed no significant differences, neither for FCD nor LAV, at both time points if compared with grafts of group Tx. However, IPC resulted in a significant increase in AI (P<0.05). We can conclude that IPC has no effect on pancreatic microcirculation but enhances acinar cell apoptosis in experimental pancreas transplantation. These results indicate that IPC might increase I/R injury after pancreatic cold ischemia.