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Cerebral injury leading to brain death (BD) causes major physiologic derangements in potential organ donors, which may result in vascular-endothelial activation and affect posttransplant graft function. We investigated the kinetic of pro-coagulatory and pro-inflammatory endothelial activation and the subsequent oxidative stress and renal tubular injury, early after BD declaration. BD was induced by slowly inflating a balloon-catheter inserted in the extradural space over a period of 30 min. Rats (n = 30) were sacrificed 0.5, 1, 2 or 4 h after BD-induction and compared with sham-controls. This study demonstrates immediate pro-coagulatory and pro-inflammatory activation of vascular endothelium after BD in kidney donor rats, proportional with the duration of BD. E- and P-Selectins, Aalpha/Bbeta-fibrinogen mRNA were abruptly and progressively up-regulated from 0.5 h BD onwards; P-Selectin membrane protein expression was increased; fibrinogen was primarily visualized in the peritubular capillaries. Plasma von Willebrand factor was significantly higher after 2 h and 4 h BD. Urine heart-fatty-acid-binding-protein and N-acetyl-glucosaminidase, used as new specific and sensitive markers of proximal and distal tubular damage, were found significantly increased after 0.5 h, with a maximum at 4 h. Unexpectedly, oxidative stress was detectable only late, after the installation of tubular injury, suggesting only a secondary role for hypoxia in triggering these injuries.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Transplant

Publication Date





933 - 941


Brain Death, Brain Injuries, Endothelium, Vascular, Humans, Kidney, Kidney Tubules, Oxidative Stress, Postmortem Changes, Tissue Donors, Tissue and Organ Procurement