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Reduced Complications after Arterial Reconnection in a Rat Model of Orthotopic Liver Transplantation

Xu-Chun Chen1, Manmeet Sekhon1,2, Xue-Zhong Ma1, Justin Manuel1, Sai Chung1,2, Eddie He1, Agata Bartczak1, Sandra Fischer3, Cornelia Thoeni3, Graziano Oldani1, Catia T. Perciani1, Sonya MacParland1,2,3, Ian McGilvray1


The rat orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) model is a powerful tool to study acute and chronic rejection. However, it is not a complete representation of human liver transplantation due to the absence of arterial reconnection. Described here is a modified transplantation procedure that includes the incorporation of hepatic artery (HA) reconnection, leading to a marked improvement in transplant outcomes. With a mean anhepatic time of 12 min and 14 s, HA reconnection results in improved perfusion of the transplanted liver and an increase in long-term recipient survival from 37.5% to 88.2%. This protocol includes the use of 3D-printed cuffs and holders to connect the portal vein and infrahepatic inferior vena cava. It can be implemented for studying multiple aspects of liver transplantation, from immune response and infection to technical aspects of the procedure. By incorporating a simple and practical method for arterial reconnection using a microvascular technique, this modified rat OLT protocol closely mimics aspects of human liver transplantation and will serve as a valuable and clinically relevant research model.

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