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Organs used for transplantation are usually derived from heart-beating brain dead donors. However, brain death is known to have negative effects on donor organ quality, previously studied using a difficult to control sudden onset experimental model. We have now developed a reproducible gradual onset brain death model in rats without requiring inotropic support. Fisher inbred rats weighing 260-300 g were used. Brain death was induced by a gradual inflation of a subdurally placed balloon catheter. During induction and the period following brain death, the animals were mechanically ventilated and blood pressure was continuously monitored. The blood pressure registration showed a characteristic pattern during brain death induction, in which a decrease in blood pressure, a hypotensive period in which the Cushing response occurred, and a sharp peak were consistent findings. After brain death was induced, blood pressure was maintained at normotensive levels up to 4 h. After the experiments, neuropathological evaluation of the brain located haemorrhagic cerebral parenchyma, and immunocytochemistry of liver tissue revealed a significant influx of polymorph nuclear cells, as was previously observed as well. This improved model allows the study of brain death on donor organ quality without the use of inotropic support.

Original publication




Journal article


Lab Anim

Publication Date





363 - 371


Animals, Biomarkers, Blood Pressure, Brain, Brain Death, Disease Models, Animal, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Liver, Male, Organ Preservation, Organ Transplantation, Rats, Rats, Inbred F344, Respiration, Artificial, Tissue Donors