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Normothermic liver machine perfusion as a dynamic platform for assessment and treatment of organs from septic donors

Published:November 09, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2022.10.033

      Linked Article

      To the Editor:
      It was with great interest that we read the review published by Lascaris et al.
      • Lascaris B.
      • de Meijer V.E.
      • Porte R.J.
      Normothermic liver machine perfusion as a dynamic platform for regenerative purposes. What does the future have in store for us?.
      in the Journal of Hepatology, which nicely summarizes the potential for normothermic liver machine perfusion (NLMP) as a dynamic platform for regenerative purposes. The authors rightly stress that NLMP promises to narrow the gap between organ supply and demand. NLMP permits longer preservation times and viability testing and thereby aids in the utilization and selection of liver grafts. This is ultimately expected to increase graft utilization.
      • Watson C.J.E.
      • Kosmoliaptsis V.
      • Pley C.
      • Randle L.
      • Fear C.
      • Crick K.
      • et al.
      Observations on the ex situ perfusion of livers for transplantation.
      ,
      • Mergental H.
      • Laing R.W.
      • Kirkham A.J.
      • Perera M.T.P.R.
      • Boteon Y.L.
      • Attard J.
      • et al.
      Transplantation of discarded livers following viability testing with normothermic machine perfusion.
      Many of the approaches cited in the article by Lascaris et al., including the possibility to treat donor livers for hepatitis C during NLMP, are still in an experimental phase and have yet to show clinical applicability. While the possibility to apply antiviral treatment to increase organ utilization is mentioned, the option to use antimicrobial therapy during NLMP was not addressed. Treating potentially contaminated organs from septic donors with the goal of preventing donor-derived infections could increase the safety profile of such transplantations and thus the number of potential donor organs available for transplantation.
      • Grossi P.A.
      Donor-derived infections, lessons learnt from the past, and what is the future going to bring us.
      The Zurich group has recently published their experience of using NLMP as a platform for treating the liver ex situ with antimicrobial agents during an extended period of normothermic perfusion. This was done in an organ carrying a tumor of unclear nature retrieved from a donor with sepsis caused by multidrug-resistant micro-organisms.
      • Clavien P.A.
      • Dutkowski P.
      • Mueller M.
      • Eshmuminov D.
      • Bautista Borrego L.
      • Weber A.
      • et al.
      Transplantation of a human liver following 3 days of ex situ normothermic preservation.
      In light of this observation, we would like to add our own experience, where we used NLMP as a platform to treat organs originating from septic donors.
      A liver from a standard criteria donor with pneumonia (positive bronchoalveolar lavage) and sepsis was offered to our center. The donor received antibiotic therapy with piperacillin/tazobactam before and during donor surgery. The liver was put on NLMP (OrganOx® metra®) and targeted antibiotic treatment was applied. Viability assessment and SeptiFast (SF) testing were done prior to the decision to go ahead with liver transplantation (LT). The SF test (Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany), a commercially available multiplex PCR assay, is designed to detect the DNA of 25 clinically important bacteria and fungi in the blood. SF test results are available within 6 hours.
      • Rath P.M.
      • Saner F.
      • Paul A.
      • Lehmann N.
      • Steinmann E.
      • Buer J.
      • et al.
      Multiplex PCR for rapid and improved diagnosis of bloodstream infections in liver transplant recipients.
      However, in contrast to blood cultures, no anti-microbial susceptibility testing is available. In response to donor blood culture findings the antimicrobial regimen was extended with ceftazidime/avibactam as well as fluconazole. Viability assessment performed during NLMP exhibited good graft performance (bile pH >7.4, bile glucose 2 mg/dl, perfusate pH ≥7.2 without the need for excessive HCO3 substitution, falling glucose levels beyond 2 hours, peak lactate fall >40 mg/dl, alanine aminotransferase <6,000 U/L at 2 hours).
      • Watson C.J.E.
      • Kosmoliaptsis V.
      • Pley C.
      • Randle L.
      • Fear C.
      • Crick K.
      • et al.
      Observations on the ex situ perfusion of livers for transplantation.
      ,
      • Weissenbacher A.
      • Vrakas G.
      • Nasralla D.
      • Ceresa C.D.L.
      The future of organ perfusion and re-conditioning.
      After 12 hours of NMLP, perfusate samples were taken for SF testing. Following negative SF test results, we went ahead with LT. The patient did not experience reperfusion syndrome and no donor-derived infection was observed. Blood cultures from the perfusate during NLMP remained negative.
      We compared the clinical course with that of two other cases, in which the perfusate cultures taken at the end of NMLP were positive for Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Since no clinical information suggestive of bacteremia in the donors was available and perfusate analyses were completed only days after the LT, a standard antimicrobial regimen (cefuroxime) was administered during NLMP. After transplantation, both recipients experienced severe reperfusion syndrome, displayed exceptionally high peak IL-6 values and developed severe sepsis (Table 1). The possibility to apply antimicrobial therapy during NLMP and to monitor the treatment response via SF testing deserves recognition. Applying this concept in a liver from a septic donor resulted in successful transplantation of an organ, which otherwise would most likely have been discarded. Of note, both kidneys were retrieved but ultimately discarded in light of concerns about a donor-derived infection and the lack of a normothermic kidney machine perfusion platform.
      Table 1Antimicrobial and reperfusion characteristics.
      Case#1#2#3
      Perfusate culturesPositivePositiveNegative
      Recipient blood cultures/IV catheter culturesPositivePositiveNegative
      Microorganisms culturedKlebsiella pneumoniaStaphylococcus aureusNone
      Reperfusion syndromeYesYesNo
      IL-6 peak in recipient330,717 ng/L169,433 ng/L651 ng/L
      CRP in recipient27 mg/dl12 mg/dl15 mg/dl
      PCT in recipient53 μg/L68 μg/L140 μg/L
      CRP, c-reactive protein; IL-6, interleukin-6; IV, intravenous; PCT, procalcitonin.
      In contrast to cold storage, normothermic machine perfusion creates an environment for microorganisms to grow. While this poses both a threat and an opportunity, the combination of SF testing and antimicrobial treatment during normothermic machine perfusion means that transplantation can be considered with organs that would otherwise be declined. This exemplifies the possibilities arising from the clinical introduction of NLMP as a platform for organ assessment, reconditioning and ultimately repair.

      Financial support

      The authors received no financial support to produce this manuscript.

      Conflict of interest

      The authors declare no conflicts of interest that pertain to this work.
      Please refer to the accompanying ICMJE disclosure forms for further details.

      Authors’ contributions

      The authors declare that they have participated in the preparation of the manuscript and have seen and approved the final version. FJK was involved in acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript. RO was involved in study design, analysis and interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript. RB was involved in study design and critical revision of the manuscript. GW was involved in interpretation of data and critical revision of the manuscript. SS was involved in study concept and design, analysis and interpretation of data, critical revision of manuscript and overall study supervision.

      Supplementary data

      The following are the supplementary data to this article:

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