BACKGROUND.: Inhaled hydrogen gas exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in rat intestinal transplantation. Here, we investigated whether ex vivo donor organ treatment with dissolved hydrogen would prevent intestinal graft injury. METHODS.: Isogeneic intestinal transplantation was performed in Lewis rats with vascular flush, luminal preservation, and cold graft storage in nitrogen-bubbled (SITxN2) or hydrogen-bubbled (SITxH2) preservation solution. Lactated Ringer's solution and 3-hr cold ischemia time were used for mechanistic investigations, whereas survival experiments were performed with University of Wisconsin solution and 6-hr cold ischemia time. RESULTS.: During the early phase of ischemia-reperfusion injury, hydrogen-enriched solution significantly preserved mucosal graft morphology, diminished graft malondialdehyde levels demonstrating substantial reduction potential and blunted proinflammatory molecular responses (early growth response gene [EGR-1], interleukin [IL]-6, IL-1ß, and inducible nitric oxide synthase) within the reperfused intestinal graft muscularis. During the late phase of ischemia-reperfusion injury, circulating IL-6 protein and lactate dehydrogenase levels were significantly ameliorated in SITxH2 animals, which were associated with a favorable functional outcome in in vivo liquid gastrointestinal transit and recipient solid gastric emptying of chrome steel balls, and marked prevention of the posttransplant associated suppression of in vitro muscarinic jejunal contractility. Reflecting improved graft preservation, hydrogen preloading of grafts increased recipient survival rates from 41% to 80%. Anti-inflammatory and antiapoptotic heme oxygenase-1 was significantly upregulated in the hydrogen-treated graft muscularis but not mucosa before reperfusion. CONCLUSIONS.: Graft preloading with hydrogen demonstrated superior morphologic and functional graft protection in rodent intestinal transplantation, ultimately facilitating recipient survival. Antioxidant capacity and muscularis heme oxygenase-1 upregulation are possible protective mechanisms.
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