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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2009 Jul;28(7):718-24. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2009.04.003. Epub 2009 May 13.

Methylprednisolone and tacrolimus prevent hypothermia-induced endothelial dysfunction.

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Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.



Hypothermia is used to preserve organs for transplantation and is the oldest method to protect organs during complex pediatric cardiac surgery. Loss of tissue function and tissue edema are common complications in children undergoing corrective cardiac surgery and heart transplantation. The present study was designed to examine the effects of methylprednisolone and tacrolimus on endothelial cell function and morphology after deep hypothermia and rewarming.


Human umbilical vein endothelial cells were pre-treated with methylprednisolone or tacrolimus, or both, incubated within a specially designed bioreactor or in monolayers, and then exposed to a dynamic cooling and rewarming protocol. Immunocytochemistry, time-lapse video microscopy, cell permeability and adherence assays, and Western blot analysis were performed.


Confluent endothelial cells exposed to hypothermia displayed elongated cell shapes with intercellular gap formation, increased endothelial cell-layer permeability, and loss in adherence. Upon rewarming, however, endothelial cell integrity was restored. Opening and closing of intercellular gaps was dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK 1/2) activation and connexin 43 expression. The combined treatment with methylprednisolone and tacrolimus inhibited these hypothermia-induced changes.


These results suggest that methylprednisolone and tacrolimus inhibit hypothermia-induced endothelial gap formation by phosphorylated ERK 1/2 inhibition and connexin 43 stabilization. Application of combined drugs that affect multiple targets may therefore be considered as a possible new therapeutic strategy to prevent endothelial dysfunction after hypothermia and rewarming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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