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Int J Exp Pathol. 1990 Aug;71(4):513-28.

Ultrastructural changes in rat lungs after 48 h cold storage with and without reperfusion.

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Section of Surgical Research, MRC Clinical Research Centre, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, UK.


Using a left lung orthotopic isograft model in AS strain rats, we have investigated ultrastructural changes in lungs preserved for 48 h at 0 degrees C after a simple flush technique. Lungs were examined after storage alone and after storage followed by up to 1 h reperfusion with blood in vivo. Grafts were flushed with either isotonic saline (NaCl) or hypertonic citrate solution (HCA) alone, or with HCA containing either verapamil (a Ca2+ channel blocker), desferrioxamine (a Fe2+ antagonist), prostacyclin PGI2, nifedipine (a Ca2+ channel blocker) or allopurinol (a xanthine oxidase inhibitor). These agents were also given intravenously to both donor and recipient. Storage in NaCl produced gross cytoplasmic swelling and disruption with widespread nuclear injury. Reperfusion for 1 h resolved cell swelling but some endothelial loss and alveolar capillary wall rupture were seen. HCA with or without additional agents protected against cell swelling but endothelial blebbing and widening of the basement membrane occurred. Reperfusion for 1 h led to recovery of the basement membrane thickness but widespread endothelial loss was observed which was reduced by the addition of verapamil, desferrioxamine, nifedipine or allopurinol to the flush, but not by prostacyclin. Examination of lungs reperfused for shorter periods (5 and 15 min) identified three main types of damage to the vascular endothelium: (1) gross cell swelling, (2) detachment of intact endothelial cells from the underlying basal lamina, and (3) attenuation of cytoplasm due to blebbing. The results suggest that endothelial injury occurring on reperfusion is partly Fe2+ and Ca2(+)-mediated and that reactions catalysed by xanthine oxidase (which include oxygen free radical production) may also be important.

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