Tryptophan metabolism via the kynurenine pathway: Implications for graft optimization during machine perfusion

Anna Zhang, Cailah Carroll, Siavash Raigani, Negin Karimian, Viola Huang, Sonal Nagpal, Irene Beijert, Robert J. Porte, Martin Yarmush, Korkut Uygun, Heidi Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Access to liver transplantation continues to be hindered by the severe organ shortage. Extended-criteria donor livers could be used to expand the donor pool but are prone to ischemiareperfusion injury (IRI) and post-transplant graft dysfunction. Ex situ machine perfusion may be used as a platform to rehabilitate discarded or extended-criteria livers prior to transplantation, though there is a lack of data guiding the utilization of different perfusion modalities and therapeutics. Since amino acid derivatives involved in inflammatory and antioxidant pathways are critical in IRI, we analyzed differences in amino acid metabolism in seven discarded non-steatotic human livers during normothermic- (NMP) and subnormothermic-machine perfusion (SNMP) using data from untargeted metabolomic profiling. We found notable differences in tryptophan, histamine, and glutathione metabolism. Greater tryptophan metabolism via the kynurenine pathway during NMP was indicated by significantly higher kynurenine and kynurenate tissue concentrations compared to pre-perfusion levels. Livers undergoing SNMP demonstrated impaired glutathione synthesis indicated by depletion of reduced and oxidized glutathione tissue concentrations. Notably, ATP and energy charge ratios were greater in livers during SNMP compared to NMP. Given these findings, several targeted therapeutic interventions are proposed to mitigate IRI during liver machine perfusion and optimize marginal liver grafts during SNMP and NMP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1864
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Ex situ perfusion
  • Glutathione
  • Histamine
  • Kynurenine
  • Liver transplant
  • Machine perfusion
  • Metabolomics
  • Normothermic
  • Subnormothermic
  • Tryptophan


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