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J Vasc Surg. 2008 Feb;47(2):422-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2007.09.048.

Improvement of the cold storage of blood vessels with a vascular preservation solution. Study in porcine aortic segments.

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  • 1Institut f├╝r Physiologische Chemie, Universit├Ątsklinikum, Essen, Germany.



Cold-induced injury to various cell types has been shown to be mediated predominantly by chelatable iron. For endothelial cells, this type of injury has so far only been shown in cultured cells. Hypothesizing that this iron-dependent cold-induced injury might also occur in the endothelium of intact vessels, we here set out to optimize the hypothermic storage of blood vessels.


Segments of porcine aorta were stored for 2 to 21 days in histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate (HTK) solution or in modified solutions with or without the iron chelators deferoxamine or LK 614 at 4 degrees C. Parts of the segments were assayed immediately after cold storage, the other parts after subsequent rewarming. The percentage of dead (propidium iodide-positive) endothelial cells was assessed by "intravital" fluorescence microscopy, mitochondrial membrane potential was assessed by laser scanning microscopy after staining with tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester (TMRM) and thrombocyte adhesion was studied using 5-(and -6)-carboxy SNARF-1-stained thrombocytes.


The endothelium of porcine aortic segments sustained moderate injury during the cold incubation itself, but major injury during rewarming. The addition of the iron chelator deferoxamine (1 mmol/L) significantly inhibited cold-induced endothelial cell injury irrespective of the solution used for cold storage (eg, 14 days of cold storage + 3 hours rewarming: HTK 66 +/- 7%, HTK + 1 mmol/L deferoxamine 40 +/- 10% propidium iodide-positive endothelial cells). An amino acid (glycine, alanine, aspartate)-containing base solution with N-acetylhistidine as buffer was optimized. The optimized base solution with pH 7.0 and potassium and chloride as main ions yielded a further decrease of endothelial cell injury. Combination of deferoxamine (in lower concentration, ie, 0.1 mmol/L) with the new, more membrane-permeable iron chelator LK 614 (20 mumol/L) further improved preservation so that even after 3 weeks of cold storage plus 3 hours rewarming only 10 +/- 1% of endothelial cells were propidium iodide positive. In this optimized solution, both endothelial cell survival and mitochondrial membrane potential were significantly better preserved than in the clinically used solutions HTK, University of Wisconsin (UW) and Perfadex, or in physiological saline. Thrombocyte adhesion was also significantly reduced after cold storage in the optimized solution compared with HTK solution.


Cold-induced injury to the endothelium of porcine aortic segments is, as the injury to cultured endothelial cells, mediated by chelatable iron. Thus, iron chelators, but also optimized base solutions, are options to improve the storage of vascular endothelium. The optimized solution should now be tested in in vivo animal experiments.

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