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Hypothermic preservation of solid allografts causes profound damage of vascular endothelial cells. This, in turn, might activate innate immunity. In the present study we employed an in vitro model to study to what extent supernatants of damaged endothelial cells are able to activate innate immunity and to study the nature of these signals. The expression of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and adhesion molecules on human umbilical vein endothelial cell was studied by immunofluorescence, fluorescence activated cell sorter and Western blotting. Cytokine production was performed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. HMGB1 expression was lost completely in endothelial cells after hypothermic preservation. This was associated with cell damage as it occurred only in untreated endothelial cell but not in cells rendered resistant to hypothermia-mediated damage by dopamine treatment. Only supernatants from hypothermia susceptible cells up-regulated the expression of interleukin (IL)-8 and adhesion molecules in cultured endothelial cells in an HMGB1-dependent manner. In whole blood assays, both supernatants of hypothermia susceptible and resistant cells inhibited tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha production concomitantly with an increased IL-10 secretion. The activity of the supernatants was already found after 6 h of hypothermic preservation, and paralleled the decrease in intracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. Modulation of TNF-alpha and IL-10 production by these supernatants was abrogated completely by prior treatment with adenosine deaminase and was similar to the response of an A2R agonist. Our study demonstrates that both HMGB1 and adenosine are released during hypothermic preservation. While release of HMGB1 is caused by cell damage, release of adenosine seems to be related to ATP hydrolysis, occurring in both susceptible and resistant cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date





311 - 319


Adenosine, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Cells, Cultured, Endothelial Cells, Endothelium, Vascular, HMGB1 Protein, Humans, Interleukin-10, Interleukin-8, Lipopolysaccharides, Refrigeration, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha