The traditional philosophy of ex vivo organ preservation has been to limit metabolic activity by storing organs in hypothermic, static conditions. This methodology cannot provide longevity of hearts for more than 4–6 h and is thereby insufficient to expand the number of available organs. Albeit at lower rate, the breakdown of ATP still occurs during hypothermia. Furthermore, cold static preservation does not prevent the permanent damage that occurs upon reperfusion known as ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury. This damage is caused by increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in combination with mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening, highlighting the importance of mitochondria in ischemic storage. There has recently been a major paradigm shift in the field, with emerging research supporting changes in traditional storage approaches. Novel research suggests achieving metabolic homeostasis instead of attempting to limit metabolic activity which reduces IR injury and improves graft preservation. Maintaining high ATP levels and circumventing cold organ storage would be a much more sophisticated standard for organ storage and should be the focus of future research in organ preservation. Given the link between mPTP, Ca2+, and ROS, managing Ca2+ influx into the mitochondria during conditioning might be the next critical step towards preventing irreversible IR injury.

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Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research
Department of Pediatrics

Schipper, D., Marsh, K. M., Ferng, A. S., Duncker, D., Laman, J., & Khalpey, Z. (2016). The Critical Role of Bioenergetics in Donor Cardiac Allograft Preservation. Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research (Vol. 9, pp. 176–183). doi:10.1007/s12265-016-9692-2