Background: Cold ischemia/reperfusion injury of the hepatic graft, an unsolved problem in liver transplantations, is attributed to the release of inflammatory cytokines, especially the tumor necrosis factor- (TNF) α, from activated Kupffer cells (KC). Therefore, the specific inhibition of TNF-α could improve the viability of the hepatic graft upon reperfusion.: We assessed the efficacy of TNF-α antisense (TNF-AS) oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) delivery to KC in a rodent liver transplantation model. Results: Seventy-one percent of the animals that received 6 hours preserved grafts in baths of lactated Ringer's solution (4°C) and were treated with TNF-AS survived for over 14 days. Eighty percent of the animals treated with vehicle, sense ODNs, or balanced salt saline (BSS) died. Four hours after reperfusion of the liver, a significant reduction was noted in livers treated with TNF-AS in the release of cytosolic enzymes from the hepatocytes and the serum TNF-α (P<0.05). The expressions of TNF-α on KC and of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 on sinusoidal endothelial cells were completely suppressed in TNF-AS-treated livers. Conclusions: TNF-AS delivery improves the viability of the hepatic graft, and this technique may solve hepatic graft nonfunction in a clinical setting.
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