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Recellularization of decellularized bovine carotid arteries
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"In vitro recellularization of decellularized bovine carotid arteries using human endothelial colony forming cells" was published in the latest issue of Journal of Biological Engineering.
Many patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are dependent on bypass surgery. However, in some patients no suitable replacements (i.e. autologous or prosthetic bypass grafts) are available. Advances have been made to develop autologous tissue engineered vascular grafts (TEVG) using endothelial colony forming cells (ECFC) obtained by peripheral blood draw in large animal trials. Clinical translation of this technique, however, still requires additional data for usability of isolated ECFC from high cardiovascular risk patients.
Bovine carotid arteries (BCA) were decellularized using a combined SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) -free mechanical-osmotic-enzymatic-detergent approach to show the feasibility of xenogenous vessel decellularization. Decellularized BCA chips were seeded with human ECFC, isolated from a high cardiovascular risk patient group, suffering from diabetes, hypertension and/or chronic renal failure. ECFC were cultured alone or in coculture with rat or human mesenchymal stromal cells (rMSC/hMSC). Decellularized BCA chips were evaluated for biochemical, histological and mechanical properties. Successful isolation of ECFC and recellularization capabilities were analyzed by histology.

Decellularized BCA showed retained extracellular matrix (ECM) composition and mechanical properties upon cell removal. Isolation of ECFC from the intended target group was successfully performed (80% isolation efficiency). Isolated cells showed a typical ECFC-phenotype. Upon recellularization, co-seeding of patient-isolated ECFC with rMSC/hMSC and further incubation was successful for 14 (n = 9) and 23 (n = 5) days. Reendothelialization (rMSC) and partial reendothelialization (hMSC) was achieved. Seeded cells were CD31 and vWF positive, however, human cells were detectable for up to 14 days in xenogenic cell-culture only. Seeding of ECFC without rMSC was not successful.

Using our refined decellularization process we generated easily obtainable TEVG with retained ECM- and mechanical quality, serving as a platform to develop small-diameter (< 6 mm) TEVG. ECFC isolation from the cardiovascular risk target group is possible and sufficient. Survival of diabetic ECFC appears to be highly dependent on perivascular support by rMSC/hMSC under static conditions. ECFC survival was limited to 14 days post seeding.
Authors are N. Seiffert, P. Tang, E. Keshi, A. Reutzel-Selke, S. Moosburner, H. Everwien, D. Wulsten, H. Napierala, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, K. Hillebrandt, and B. Struecker.
J Biol Eng 15, 15 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13036-021-00266-5
Notch Signaling Pathway in Pancreatobiliary Tumors
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The Notch signaling pathway plays an important role both in the development of the ductal systems of the pancreas and the bile ducts as well as in cancer development and progression. The aim of this study was to examine the expression of central proteins of the Notch signaling pathway in pancreatobiliary tumors and its influence on patient survival.

Materials and Methods: We compared the receptors (Notch1, Notch4), activating splicing factors (ADAM17), and target genes (HES1) of the Notch pathway and progenitor cell markers with relevance for the Notch signaling pathway (CD44, MSI1) between pancreatic adenocarcinomas (PDAC, n = 14), intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCC, n = 24), and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (eCC, n = 22) cholangiocarcinomas.

A significant overexpression of almost all studied components of the Notch signaling pathway can be found in the tumor tissue, however, without a significant influence on patient survival. Therefore, further studies are warranted to draw conclusions on Notch pathway's relevance for patient survival.

The paper "Notch Signaling Pathway in Pancreatobiliary Tumors" is available via Medicina, 2021;57(2):105. Authors are Francesca Borlak, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Anja Schirmeier, Julia Gogolok, Ellen von Hoerschelmann, Igor M Sauer, Johann Pratschke, Marcus Bahra, and Rosa B Schmuck.
Extended liver resection in mice: state of the art and pitfalls
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"Extended liver resection in mice: state of the art and pitfalls – a systematic review" is available in ur J Med Res. 2021; 26(1):6.
Rodent models of liver resection have been used to investigate and evaluate the liver's complex physiology and pathology since 1931. First documented by Higgins and Anderson, such models were created to understand liver regeneration mechanisms to improve outcomes in patients undergoing extensive liver resection for liver cancer or other underlying liver diseases. A systematic search was conducted using Pubmed, gathering publications up to January 2019, which engaged with the mouse model of extended liver resection as a method itself. The results of this search were filtered according to their language, novelty, and relevancy.
Through the overview, laid out in the selected publications, this paper reviews the shift of the extended liver resection model from rat to the mouse, describes the state of the art in the experimental setting, and discusses the possible limitations and pitfalls. Clearly, the extended liver resection in mice is a reproducible, practical and easy to learn method.
Authors are Can Kamali, Kaan Kamali, Philipp Brunnbauer, Katrin Splith, Johann Pratschke, Moritz Schmelzle, and Felix Krenzien.
Engineering an endothelialized, endocrine NeoPancreas
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Acta Biomaterialia accepted our latest paper on "Engineering an endothelialized, endocrine Neo-Pancreas: evaluation of islet functionality in an ex vivo model".

Islet-based recellularization of decellularized, repurposed rat livers may form a transplantable Neo-Pancreas. The aim of this study is the establishment of the necessary protocols, the evaluation of the organ structure and the analysis of the islet functionality ex vivo.
After perfusion-based decellularization of rat livers, matrices were repopulated with endothelial cells and mesenchymal stromal cells, incubated for 8 days in a perfusion chamber and finally repopulated on day 9 with intact rodent islets. Integrity and quality of re-endothelialization was assessed by histology and FITC-dextran perfusion assay. Functionality of the islets of Langerhans was determined on day 10 and day 12 via glucose stimulated insulin secretion.
Blood gas analysis variables confirmed the stability of the perfusion cultivation. Histological staining showed that cells formed a monolayer inside the intact vascular structure. These findings were confirmed by electron microscopy. Islets infused via the bile duct could histologically be found in the parenchymal space. Adequate insulin secretion after glucose stimulation after 1-day and 3-day cultivation verified islet viability and functionality after the repopulation process.
We provide the first proof-of-concept for the functionality of islets of Langerhans engrafted in a decellularized rat liver. Furthermore, a re-endothelialization step was implemented to provide implantability. This technique can serve as a bioengineered platform to generate implantable and functional endocrine Neo-Pancreases.

Authors are Hannah Everwien, Eriselda Keshi, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Barbara Ludwig, Marie Weinhart, Peter Tang, Anika S. Beierle, Hendrik Napierala, Joseph MGV Gassner, Nicolai Seiffert, Simon Moosburner, Dominik Geisel, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Benjamin Strücker, Johann Pratschke, Nils Haep, and Igor M. Sauer.
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Declined Liver Grafts – Analysis of the German Donor Population from 2010 to 2018
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"Declined Liver Grafts – Analysis of the German Donor Population from 2010 to 2018" was published in the Zeitschrift für Gastroenterologie.
The lack of suitable allografts limits the availability of liver transplantation in Germany. The quality of potentially available German donor livers has to date not been analyzed.
Analysis of all donors for potential liver transplantations reported to the Eurotransplant by the German Organ Transplantation Foundation from 2010 to 2018. Categorization of transplanted and discarded organs utilizing available histopathological reports and predefined extended criteria for organ donation.
A total of 8594 livers were offered for transplantation, of which 15.2 % were discarded. During the analysis period the proportion of donor livers from extended criteria donors increased from 65 % to 70 % (p = 0.005). In 2018, 21.3 % of offered donor livers were discarded, more than half (56.4 %) of these organs came from donors meeting multiple extended criteria. Livers were significantly more likely to be not transplanted, when from donors of older age (> 65 years; 41 vs. 28 %), BMI > 30 kg/m2 (29 vs. 14 %) or elevated transaminase levels (all p < 0.001).
Despite the consistent organ scarcity in Germany, a relevant amount of livers cannot be transplanted due to a multitude of organ quality limitations. This should stimulate the search for concepts such as normothermic ex vivo machine perfusion to evaluate, protect and potentially improve organ quality.

Authors are Simon Moosburner, Nathanael Raschzok, Christina Schleicher, Detlef Bösebeck, Joseph M.G.V. Gaßner, Paul V. Ritschl, Axel Rahmel, Igor M. Sauer, and Johann Pratschke.
Z Gastroenterol. 2020 Aug 24. doi: 10.1055/a-1199-7432. Online ahead of print.
Felix Krenzien received Ferdinand-Sauerbruch Prize 2020
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Priv.-Doz. Dr. Felix Krenzien received the Ferdinand-Sauerbruch Prize 2020 for his project and publication „The ILLS Laparoscopic Liver Surgery Fellow Skills Curriculum“ published in Annals of Surgery (online ahead of print).

Congratulations!

Laparoscopy is becoming the standard approach in liver surgery. As the degree of difficulty varies greatly from core skills to advanced procedures, strategies for teaching young surgeons need to be reconsidered. We here aimed to design a skills curriculum for LLR. Using the nominal group technique, 22 substeps of LLR were identified by 61 hepatobiliary surgeons. The raters were asked to rate (1) the difficulty of substeps and (2) the minimum number of times that the substep must be performed for mastery of the technique. According to the frequency of defined substeps, being estimated on the basis of high volume center experiences (n = 222 LLR; 1/2017-12/2018), the center's training capacity and defined goals for a 2-year fellowship were calculated.
Ten surgical substeps (45%) are routinely performed and can thus be taught sufficiently at centers carrying out ≥50 LLR in 2 years. As the mobilization of the right liver lobe and the dissection of the hepatic artery or portal vein is performed in only 27% and 28% of all LLR, respectively, sufficient training can only be provided at centers with ≥100 LLRs in 2 years. Mastery of complex parenchymal dissection (19%) and hilar lymphadenectomy (8%) can only be achieved in center performing ≥200 LLR in 2 years.
The authors suggest a stepwise approach for training of hepatobiliary fellows in LLR. Based on the estimated complexity of the substeps and the size of the center, not every substep can be learned within 2 years.

Authors are Felix Krenzien, Wenzel Schöning, Philipp Brunnbauer, Christian Benzing, Robert Öllinger, Matthias Biebl, Marcus Bahra, Nathanael Raschzok, Daniel Cherqui, David Geller, Ho-Seong Han, Go Wakabayashi, Moritz Schmelzle, Johann Pratschke, and the study group of the International Laparoscopic Liver Society (ILLS).
The Human Liver Matrisome
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Biomaterials accepted our latest paper on „The Human Liver Matrisome – Proteomic Analysis of Native and Fibrotic Human Liver Extracellular Matrices for Organ Engineering Approaches“.

The production of biomaterials that endow significant morphogenic and microenvironmental cues for the constitution of cell integration and regeneration remains a key challenge in the successful implementation of functional organ replacements. Despite the vast development in the production of biological and architecturally native matrices, the complex compositions and pivotal figures by which the human matrisome mediates many of its essential functions are yet to be defined. Here we present a thorough analysis of the native human liver proteomic landscape using decellularization and defatting protocols to extract create extracellular matrix scaffolds of natural origin that can further be used in both bottom-up and top-down approaches in tissue engineering based organ replacements. Furthermore, by analyzing human liver extracellular matrices in different stages of fibrosis and cirrhosis, we have identified distinct attributes of these tissues that could potentially be exploited therapeutically and thus require further investigation. The general experimental pipeline presented in this study is applicable to any type of tissue and can be widely used for different approaches in regenerative medicine and in the construction of novel biomaterials for organ engineering approaches.

Authors are A. Daneshgar, O. Klein, G. Nebrich, M. Weinhart, P. Tang, A. Arnold, I. Ullah, J. Pohl, S. Moosburner, N. Raschzok, B. Strücker, M. Bahra, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and K.H. Hillebrandt. The authors acknowledge the support of the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity. Image Space Material funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany´s Excellence Strategy – EXC 2025.
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Ex vivo machine perfusion: current applications and future directions in liver transplantation
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Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery accepted the manuscript „Ex vivo machine perfusion: current applications and future directions in liver transplantation“ for publication.

Liver transplantation is the only curative treatment option for end-stage liver disease, however, its use remains limited due to a shortage of suitable organs. In recent years, ex vivo liver machine perfusion has been introduced to liver transplantation, as a means to expand the donor organ pool.
To present a narrative review of prospective clinical studies on ex vivo liver machine perfusion, in order to assess current applications and highlight future directions.
Methods: A systematic literature search of both PubMed and ISI web of science databases as well as the ClinicalTrials.gov registry was performed.
Twenty articles on prospective clinical trials on ex vivo liver machine perfusion were identified. Out of these, eight reported on hypothermic, nine on normothermic, and two on sequential perfusion. These trials have demonstrated the safety and feasibility of ex vivo liver machine perfusion in both standard and expanded criteria donors. Currently, there are 12 studies enrolled in the clinicaltrials.gov registrar, and these focus on use of ex vivo perfusion in extended criteria donors as well as declined organs.
Ex vivo liver machine perfusion seems to be a suitable strategy to expand the donor pool for liver transplantation and holds promise as a platform for reconditioning diseased organs.

Authors are Julian Michelotto, Joseph MGV Gaßner, Simon Moosburner, Vanessa Muth, Madhukar S Patel, Markus Selzner, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer, and Nathanael Raschzok.
Ultrasound in augmented reality: a mixed-methods evaluation of head-mounted displays in image-guided interventions
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The International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery accepted Christoph Rüger's paper on "Ultrasound in augmented reality: a mixed-methods evaluation of head-mounted displays in image-guided interventions" for publication.

Augmented reality (AR) and head-mounted displays (HMD) are current subjects of investigation in medical practice. A commonly proposed use-case of AR-HMDs is to display data in image-guided interventions. Although technical feasibility has been thoroughly shown, effects of AR-HMDs on interventions are not yet well researched, hampering clinical applicability. Therefore, the goal of this study is to better understand the benefits and limitations of this technology in ultrasound-guided interventions.
We used an AR-HMD system (based on Hololens, Microsoft Corp.) which overlays live ultrasound images spatially correctly at the location of the ultrasound transducer. We chose ultrasound-guided needle placements as a representative task for image-guided interventions. To examine the effects of the AR-HMD, we used mixed methods and conducted two studies in a lab setting: (1) in an experimental study, we asked participants to place needles into a training model and evaluated task duration and accuracy with the AR- HMD as compared to the standard procedure without visual overlay and (2) in a qualitative study, we analysed the user experience with AR-HMD using think-aloud protocols during ultrasound examinations and semi-structured interviews after the task.
Participants (n=20) placed needles more accurately (mean error of 7.4 mm vs. 4.9 mm, p=0.022) but not significantly faster (mean task duration of 74.4 s vs. 66.4 s, p=0.211) with the AR-HMD. All participants in the qualitative study (n=6) reported limitations of and unfamiliarity with the AR-HMD, yet all but one also clearly noted benefits and/or that they would like to test the technology in practice.
We present additional, though still preliminary, evidence that AR-HMDs provide benefits in image-guided procedures. Our data also contribute insights into potential causes underlying the benefits, such as improved spatial perception. Still, more comprehensive studies are needed to ascertain benefits for clinical applications and to clarify underlying mechanisms.

Authors are Christoph Rüger, Markus A. Feufel, Simon Moosburner, Christopher Özbek, Johann Pratschke, and Igor M. Sauer.
Dual versus single vessel normothermic ex vivo perfusion of rat liver grafts using metamizole for vasodilatation
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F. Claussen, J.M.G.V. Gassner, S. Moosburner, D. Wyrwal, M. Nösser, P. Tang, L. Wegener, J. Pohl, A. Reutzel-Selke, R. Arsenic, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok published their trecent work on "Dual versus single vessel normothermic ex vivo perfusion of rat liver grafts using metamizole for vasodilatation" in PLoS One 2020;15(7): e0235635.

Normothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (NEVLP) is a promising strategy to increase the donor pool in liver transplantation. Small animal models are essential to further investigate questions regarding organ preservation and reconditioning by NEVLP. A dual vessel small animal NEVLP (dNEVLP) model was developed using metamizole as a vasodilator and compared to conventional portovenous single vessel NEVLP (sNEVLP).

Livers of male Wistar rats were perfused with erythrocyte-supplemented culture medium for six hours by either dNEVLP via hepatic artery and portal vein or portovenous sNEVLP. dNEVLP was performed either with or without metamizole treatment. Perfusion pressure and flow rates were constantly monitored. Transaminase levels were determined in the perfusate at the start and after three and six hours of perfusion. Bile secretion was monitored and bile LDH and GGT levels were measured hourly. Histopathological analysis was performed using liver and bile duct tissue samples after perfusion.

Hepatic artery pressure was significantly lower in dNEVLP with metamizole administration. Compared to sNEVLP, dNEVLP with metamizole treatment showed higher bile production, lower levels of transaminases during and after perfusion as well as significantly lower necrosis in liver and bile duct tissue. Biochemical markers of bile duct injury showed the same trend.

Our miniaturized dNEVLP system enables normothermic dual vessel rat liver perfusion. The administration of metamizole effectively ameliorates arterial vasospasm allowing for six hours of dNEVLP, with superior outcome compared to sNEVLP.

Development of GelMA/PCL and dECM/PCL resins for 3D printing of acellular in vitro tissue scaffolds by stereolithography
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Gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) is a chemically modified extracellular matrix (ECM)-derived biopolymer that is widely used for 3D fabrication of tissue engineering scaffolds. However, its tendency for physical gelation limits its use in aqueous 3D printing resins to low concentrations, yielding a poor printing resolution in stereolithography (SLA).
To obtain a GelMA-based resin that can be printed into high-resolution tissue scaffolds, we formulated resins of fish and porcine-derived GelMA in formamide using GelMA alone or mixed with star-shaped poly(ε-caprolactone) methacrylate (PCL-MA). We identified GelMA resins and GelMA/PCL-MA hybrid resins with a ratio of 70/30 wt-% to yield a suitable viscosity for SLA at 32 °C and demonstrated the resolution of the new resins in SLA by 3D printing acellular human small intestine-mimicking tissue scaffolds. The presence of PCL-MA in the hybrid resins improved the 3D printing fidelity compared to the neat GelMA resins, while GelMA provided the hybrid materials with enhanced swelling and proliferation of seeded cells. We further demonstrated the transferability of our resin formulation to native organ-derived materials by successfully replacing GelMA in the hybrid resin with solubilized, methacryloyl-functionalized decellularized liver ECM (dECM-MA) and by 3D printing multi-layer dECM/PCL-MA hydrogels.

"Development of GelMA/PCL and dECM/PCL resins for 3D printing of acellular in vitro tissue scaffolds by stereolithography" was published in Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 2020 Jul;112:110958. Authors are L. Elomaa, E. Keshi, I.M. Sauer, and M. Weinhart.
Extended reality technologies for support of surgical workflows
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Current developments in the field of extended reality (XR) could prove useful in the optimization of surgical workflows, time effectiveness and postoperative outcome. Although still primarily a subject of research, the state of XR technologies is rapidly improving and approaching feasibility for a broad clinical application. Surgical fields of application of XR technologies are currently primarily training, preoperative planning and intraoperative assistance. For all three areas, products already exist (some clinically approved) and technical feasibility studies have been conducted. In teaching, the use of XR can already be assessed as fundamentally practical and meaningful but still needs to be evaluated in large multicenter studies. In preoperative planning XR can also offer advantages, although technical limitations often impede routine use; however, for cases of intraoperative use informative evaluation studies are mostly lacking, so that an assessment is not yet possible in a meaningful way. Furthermore, there is a lack of assessments regarding cost-effectiveness in all three areas. The XR technologies enable proven advantages in surgical workflows despite the lack of high-quality evaluation with respect to the practical and clinical use of XR. New concepts for effective interaction with XR media also need to be developed. In the future, further research progress and technical developments in the field can be expected.

Authors are C.Rüger, S. Moosburner and I.M. Sauer (Chirurg 2020; 91(7): 544-552).
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Magnetic resonance elastography quantification of decellularized liver tissue
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"Magnetic resonance elastography quantification of the solid-to-fluid transition of liver tissue due to decellularization" was published in the latest issue of the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.

Maintenance of tissue extracellular matrix (ECM) and its biomechanical properties for tissue engineering is one of the substantial challenges in the field of decellularization and recellularization. Preservation of the organ-specific biomatrix is crucial for successful recellularization to support cell survival, proliferation, and functionality. However, understanding ECM properties with and without its inhabiting cells as well as the transition between the two states lacks appropriate test methods capable of quantifying bulk viscoelastic parameters in soft tissues.
We used compact magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) with 400, 500, and 600 Hz driving frequency to investigate rat liver specimens for quantification of viscoelastic property changes resulting from decellularization. Tissue structures in native and decellularized livers were characterized by collagen and elastin quantification, histological analysis, and scanning electron microscopy.
Decellularization did not affect the integrity of microanatomy and structural composition of liver ECM but was found to be associated with increases in the relative amounts of collagen by 83-fold (37.4 ± 17.5 vs. 0.5 ± 0.01 μg/mg, p = 0.0002) and elastin by approx. 3-fold (404.1 ± 139.6 vs. 151.0 ± 132.3 μg/mg, p = 0.0046). Decellularization reduced storage modulus by approx. 9-fold (from 4.9 ± 0.8 kPa to 0.5 ± 0.5 kPa, p < 0.0001) and loss modulus by approx. 7-fold (3.6 kPa to 0.5 kPa, p < 0.0001), indicating a marked loss of global tissue rigidity as well as a property shift from solid towards more fluid tissue behavior (p = 0.0097).
Our results suggest that the rigidity of liver tissue is largely determined by cellular components, which are replaced by fluid-filled spaces when cells are removed. This leads to an overall increase in tissue fluidity and a viscous drag within the relatively sparse remaining ECM. Compact MRE is an excellent tool for quantifying the mechanical properties of decellularized biological tissue and a promising candidate for useful applications in tissue engineering.

Authors are Hannah Everwien, Angela Ariza de Schellenberger, Nils Haep, Heiko Tzschätzsch, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer, Jürgen Braun, Karl H. Hillebrandt and Ingolf Sack.

J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2020 Apr;104:103640. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2020.103640. Epub 2020 Jan 14.
Characterization of pancreatic and biliary cancer stem cells in patient-derived tissue
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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and extrahepatic cholangio-carcinoma (eCC) represent two cancer entities with devastating prognoses. Despite recent progress in research and treatment, therapy remains challenging. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been shown to play an important role in metastasis and chemoresistance. Therefore, CSCs may play a promising role as a potential therapeutic target.
A total of 31 patients (23 PDAC, 8 eCC) were included in the study. CSCs were analyzed in a single-cell suspension of tumor samples via fluorescence-activated cell scanning (FACS) with a functional Hoechst 33342 staining as well as a cell surface marker staining of the CSC-panel (CD24, CD44 and EpCAM) and markers to identify fibroblasts, leukocytes and components of the notch signaling pathway. Furthermore, the potential presence of CSCs among primary cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) was assessed using the same FACS-panel.
We showed that CSCs are present in patient-derived dissociated tumor tissue. The functional and surface marker profile of CSC-detection did in fact correlate. The amount of CSCs was significantly correlated with tumor characteristics such as a higher UICC stadium and nodal invasion. CSCs were not restricted to the epithelial cell fraction in tumor tissues, which has been verified in independent analysis of primary cell cultures of CAFs.
Our study confirms the in vivo presence of CSCs in PDAC and eCC, stating a clinical significance thereof and thus their plausibility as therapeutic targets. In addition, stem-like cells also seem to constitute a part of the CAFs.

"Characterization of Pancreatic and Biliary Cancer Stem Cells in Patient-derived Tissue" was published in Anticancer Research. Authors are J. Gogolok, E. Seidel, A. Strönisch, A. Reutzel-Selke, I.M. Sauer, J. Pratschke, M. Bahra, and R.B. Schmuck.
Hepatocyte transplantation to the liver via the splenic artery
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Hepatocyte transplantation (HcTx) is a promising approach for the treatment of metabolic diseases in newborns and children. The most common application route is the portal vein, which is difficult to access in the newborn. Transfemoral access to the splenic artery for HcTx has been evaluated in adults, with trials suggesting hepatocyte translocation from the spleen to the liver with a reduced risk for thromboembolic complications. Using juvenile Göttingen minipigs, we aimed to evaluate feasibility of hepatocyte transplantation by transfemoral splenic artery catheterization, while providing insight on engraftment, translocation, viability, and thromboembolic complications. Four Göttingen Minipigs weighing 5.6 kg to 12.6 kg were infused with human hepatocytes (two infusions per cycle, 1.00E08 cells per kg body weight). Immunosuppression consisted of tacrolimus and prednisolone. The animals were sacrificed directly after cell infusion (n=2), 2 days (n=1), or 14 days after infusion (n=1). The splenic and portal venous blood flow was controlled via color-coded Doppler sonography. Computed tomography was performed on days 6 and 18 after the first infusion. Tissue samples were stained in search of human hepatocytes. Catheter placement was feasible in all cases without procedure-associated complications. Repetitive cell transplantations were possible without serious adverse effects associated with hepatocyte transplantation. Immunohistochemical staining has proven cell relocation to the portal venous system and liver parenchyma. However, cells were neither present in the liver nor the spleen 18 days after HcTx. Immunological analyses showed a response of the adaptive immune system to the human cells. We show that interventional cell application via the femoral artery is feasible in a juvenile large animal model of HcTx. Moreover, cells are able to pass through the spleen to relocate in the liver after splenic artery infusion. Further studies are necessary to compare this approach with umbilical or transhepatic hepatocyte administration.

"Hepatocyte Transplantation to the Liver via the Splenic Artery in a Juvenile Large Animal Model" was published in Cell Transplantation.
Authors are J. Siefert, K.H. Hillebrandt, S. Moosburner, P. Podrabsky, D. Geisel, T. Denecke, J.K. Unger, B. Sawitzki, S. Gül-Klein, S. Lippert, P. Tang, A. Reutzel-Selke, M.H. Morgul, A.W. Reske, S. Kafert-Kasting, W. Rüdinger, J. Oetvoes, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.
New book: Decellularized Extracellular Matrix: Characterization, Fabrication and Applications
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The extracellular matrix (ECM) supports cells and regulates various cellular functions in our body. The native ECM promises to provide an excellent scaffold for regenerative medicine. In order to use the ECM as a scaffold in medicine, its cellular fractions need to be removed while retaining its structural and compositional properties. This process is called decellularization, and the resulting product is known as the decellularized extracellular matrix (dECM).
The book Decellularized Extracellular Matrix: Characterization, Fabrication and Applications (Editors: Tetsuji Yamaoka, Takashi Hoshiba) focuses on the sources of dECM and its preparation, characterization techniques, fabrication, and applications in regenerative medicine and biological studies. Using this book, the reader will gain a good foundation in the field of ECM decellularization complemented with a broad overview of dECM characterization, ranging from structural observation and compositional assessment to immune responses against dECM and applications, ranging from microfabrication and 3D-printing to the application of tissue-derived dECM in vascular grafts and corneal tissue engineering etc. The book closes with a section dedicated to cultured cell dECM, a complementary technique of tissue-derived dECM preparation, for application in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, addressing its use in stem cell differentiation and how it can help in the study of the tumor microenvironment as well as in clinical trials of peripheral nerve regeneration.

E. Keshi, I.M. Sauer and K.H. Hillebrandt contributed the chapter "Engineering an endocrine Neo-Pancreas".

The print version of this book (Royal Society of Chemistry, ISBN 978-1-78801-467-0) is planned for release on 11 December 2019.
Development of a rat liver machine perfusion system for normothermic and subnormothermic conditions
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Tissue Engineering Part A accepted our paper on the "Development of a rat liver machine perfusion system for normothermic and subnormothermic conditions" (Tissue Eng Part A. 2019 Jul 31. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2019.0152. [Epub ahead of print[) !
Ex vivo liver machine perfusion is a promising alternative for preservation of liver grafts from extended criteria donors. Small animal models can be used to evaluate different perfusion conditions. We here describe the development of a miniaturized ex vivo machine perfusion system for rat liver grafts, evaluating cell-free and erythrocyte-based perfusion solutions, subnormothermic and normothermic temperatures and dialysis. A perfusion chamber was designed after a suitable liver position was identified. Normothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (NEVLP) required supplementation of erythrocytes to reduce cell damage. Perfusion with erythrocytes led to rising potassium levels after 12 hours (NEVLP, 16.2mmol/l, interquartile range (IQR) 5.7 and subnormothermic ex vivo liver perfusion (SNEVLP), 12.8 mmol/l, IQR 3.5), which were normalized by dialysis using a laboratory dialysis membrane (NEVLP, 6.2 mmol/l, IQR 0.5 and SNEVLP, 5.3 mmol/l, IQR 0.1; p=0.004). Livers treated with NEVLP conditions showed higher bile production (18.52mg/h/g, IQR 8.2) compared to livers perfused under SNEVLP conditions (0.4 mg/h/g, IQR 1.2, p=0.01). Reducing the perfusion volume from 100ml to 50ml allowed for higher erythrocytes concentrations, leading to significantly lower transaminases (15.75 U/l/ml, IQR 2.29 vs. 5.97 U/l/ml, IQR 18.07, p=0.002). In conclusion, a well-designed perfusion system, appropriate oxygen carriers, dialysis, and miniaturization of the perfusion volume are critical features for successful miniaturized ex vivo liver machine perfusion.

Authors are M. Nösser, J.M.G.V. Gassner, S. Moosburner, D. Wyrwal, F. Claussen, K.H. Hillebrandt, R. Horner, P. Tang, A. Reutzel-Selke, D. Polenz, R. Arsenic, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.
TEBURU – our latest bioreactor system
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Three‐dimensional tissue cultures are important models for the study of cell‐cell and cell‐matrix interactions, as well as, to investigate tissue repair and reconstruction pathways. Therefore, we designed a reproducible and easy to handle printable bioreactor system (Teburu), that is applicable for different approaches of pathway investigation and targeted tissue repair using human tissue slices as a three‐dimensional cell culture model. Here, we definitively describe Teburu as a controlled environment to reseed a 500‐µm thick decellularized human liver slice using human mesenchymal stroma cells. During a cultivation period of eight days, Teburu, as a semi‐open and low consumption system, was capable to maintain steady pH and oxygenation levels. Its combination with additional modules delivers an applicability for a wide range of tissue engineering approaches under optimal culture conditions.

"Teburu—Open source 3D printable bioreactor for tissue slices as dynamic three‐dimensional cell culture models" was published in Artif Organs. 2019 Jun 18. doi: 10.1111/aor.13518. [Epub ahead of print]. Authors are A. Daneshgar, P. Tang, C. Remde, M. Lommel, S. Moosburner, U. Kertzscher, O. Klein, M. Weinhart, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and K.H. Hillebrandt.
Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization
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Transplantation is the only curative treatment option available for patients suffering from end-stage organ failure, improving their quality of life and long-term survival. However, because of organ scarcity, only a small number of these patients actually benefit from transplantation. Alternative treatment options are needed to address this problem. The technique of whole-organ decellularization and recellularization has attracted increasing attention in the last decade. Decellularization includes the removal of all cellular components from an organ, while simultaneously preserving the micro and macro anatomy of the extracellular matrix. These bioscaffolds are subsequently repopulated with patient-derived cells, thus constructing a personalized neo-organ and ideally eliminating the need for immunosuppression. However, crucial problems have not yet been satisfyingly addressed and remain to be resolved, such as organ and cell sources.

In this paper "Strategies based on organ decellularization and recellularization" (Transpl Int. 2019; 32(6):571-585), we focus on the actual state of organ de- and recellularization, as well as the problems and future challenges. Authors are K.H. Hillebrandt, H. Everwien, N. Haep, E. Keshi, J. Pratschke, and I.M. Sauer.
Impact of Percoll purification on isolation of primary human hepatocytes
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Scientific Reports published our paper "Impact of Percoll purification on isolation of primary human hepatocytes" (Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 25;9(1):6542). Authors are R. Horner, J.G.M.V. Gassner, M. Kluge, P. Tang, S. Lippert, K.H. Hillebrandt, S. Moosburner, A. Reutzel-Selke, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.

Research and therapeutic applications create a high demand for primary human hepatocytes. The limiting factor for their utilization is the availability of metabolically active hepatocytes in large quantities. Centrifugation through Percoll, which is commonly performed during hepatocyte isolation, has so far not been systematically evaluated in the scientific literature. 27 hepatocyte isolations were performed using a two-step perfusion technique on tissue obtained from partial liver resections. Cells were seeded with or without having undergone the centrifugation step through 25% Percoll. Cell yield, function, purity, viability and rate of bacterial contamination were assessed over a period of 6 days. Viable yield without Percoll purification was 42.4 × 106 (SEM ± 4.6 × 106) cells/g tissue. An average of 59% of cells were recovered after Percoll treatment. There were neither significant differences in the functional performance of cells, nor regarding presence of non-parenchymal liver cells. In five cases with initial viability of <80%, viability was significantly increased by Percoll purification (71.6 to 87.7%, p = 0.03). Considering our data and the massive cell loss due to Percoll purification, we suggest that this step can be omitted if the initial viability is high, whereas low viabilities can be improved by Percoll centrifugation.
Immunologic cellular characteristics of the tumour microenvironment of HCC
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"Immunologic cellular characteristics of the tumour microenvironment of hepatocellular carcinoma drive patient outcomes" is available via World J Surg Oncol. 2019; 17(1):97

Anti-tumour immune competence has an impact in hepatocarcinogenesis and success of anti-cancer therapies. Tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and monocytes/macrophages (TAMs) are proposed to have significance in cancer. However, there is only limited data concerning their impact on patient outcome and survival in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Frequencies of CD68+, CD163+ M2-polarized TAMs and TILs were measured in de novo HCC tumours in non-cirrhosis (n = 58) using immunohistology and correlated to patients' clinicopathological characteristics and survival rates.
Patients with tumours marked by appearance of TILs and CD68+ TAMs showed an improved 1-, 3- and 5-year recurrence-free survival (all p ≤ 0.05). CD68+ TAMs were associated with reduced incidence of recurrent and multifocal disease. Conversely, CD163+ TAMs were associated with multifocal HCC and lymphangiosis carcinomatosa (all p ≤ 0.05).
TILs and CD68+ TAMs are associated with multiple tumour characteristics and patient survival in HCC. However, there is only scarce data about the biology underlying their mechanistic involvement in human tumour progression. Thus, experimental data on functional links might help develop novel immunologic checkpoint inhibitor targets for liver cancer.

Authors are G. Atanasov, K. Dino, K. Schierle, C. Dietel, G. Aust, J. Pratschke, D. Seehofer, M. Schmelzle, H.M. Hau.
Cytokine production of human CD4+ memory T cells
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Nature Communication accepted the manuscript "Progressive expression of killer-like receptors and GPR56 defines the cytokine production of human CD4+ memory T cells" for publication. Authors are Kim-Long Truong, Stephan Schlickeiser, Katrin Vogt, David Boës, Katarina Stanko, Christine Appelt, Mathias Streitz, Gerald Grütz, Nadja Stobutzki, Christian Meisel, Christina Iwert, Stefan Tomiuk, Julia Polansky, Andreas Pascher, Nina Babel, Ulrik Stervbo, Igor Sauer, Undine Gerlach, and Birgit Sawitzki.

All memory T cells mount an accelerated response on antigen reencouter, but significant functional heterogeneity is present within the respective memory T cell subsets as defined by CCR7 and CD45RA expression, thereby warranting further stratification. Here we show that several surface markers, KLRB1, KLRG1, GPR56 and KLRF1, help define “low”, “high” or “exhausted” cytokine producers within human peripheral and intra-hepatic CD4+ memory T cells. Highest simultaneous production of TNF and IFN-γ is observed in KLRB1+KLRG1+GPR56+ CD4 T cells. By contrast, KLRF1 expression is associated with reduced TNF/IFN-γ production and T cell exhaustion. Lastly, TCRbeta repertoire analysis and in vitro differentiation support a regulated, successive expression for these markers during CD4+ memory T cell differentiation. Our results thus help refine the classification of human memory T cells to provide insights on inflammatory disease progression and immunotherapy development.
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Critical Care for Potential Liver Transplant Candidates
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The book Critical Care for Potential Liver Transplant Candidates
(D. Bezinover and F. Saner [Eds.]) focuses on patients with end-stage-liver disease (ESLD) who could possibly qualify for liver transplant. This patient cohort raises many problems: who should be treated and also, when is it too late for transplant? The authors are all dedicated experts in the field of ESLD/liver transplantation, but from different disciplines with different views of the problem.
In the past 15 years many things have changed in the treatment for these patients: cardiac assessment, treatment of porto-pulmonary hypertension, hemodynamics, coagulation assessment and management, diagnosis of kidney failure, and the timing of dialysis. These issues are comprehensively discussed in this book, in order to provide physicians starting in the field of transplantation an overview of different areas of concern.
This book is aimed at specialists and trainees in critical care, hepatology, anesthesia, surgery, and nephrology.

N. Raschzok, K.H. Hillebrandt and I.M. Sauer contributed with the chapter "Liver Assist Systems for Bridging to Transplantation: Devices and Concepts".

More information via this link.
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Percoll purification after isolation of Primary Human Hepatocytes
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The manuscript "Isolation of Primary Human Hepatocytes: Is Percoll Purification Really Necessary?" was accepted for publication in Scientific Reports.
Authors are Rosa Horner, Jospeh G.M.V. Gassner, Martin Kluge M, Peter Tang, Steffen Lippert, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Simon Moosburner, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer and Nathanael Raschzok.

Research and therapeutic applications create a high demand for primary human hepatocytes. The limiting factor for their utilization is the availability of metabolically active hepatocytes in large quantities. Centrifugation through Percoll, which is commonly performed during hepatocyte isolation, has so far not been systematically evaluated in the scientific literature. 27 hepatocyte isolations were performed using a two-step perfusion technique on tissue obtained from partial liver resections. Cells were seeded with or without having undergone the centrifugation step through 25% Percoll. Cell yield, function, purity, viability and rate of bacterial contamination were assessed over a period of 6 days. Viable yield without Percoll purification was 42.4 x 106 (SEM ± 4.6 x 106) cells/g tissue. An average of 59% of cells were recovered after Percoll treatment. There were neither significant differences in the functional performance of cells, nor regarding presence of non-parenchymal liver cells. In five cases with initial viability of <80%, viability was significantly increased by Percoll purification (71.6 to 87.7%, p=0.03). Considering our data and the massive cell loss due to Percoll purification, we suggest that this step can be omitted if the initial viability is high, whereas low viabilities can be improved by Percoll centrifugation.
Read More
Critical Care for Potential Liver Transplant Candidates
Stacks Image 14130
The book Critical Care for Potential Liver Transplant Candidates
(D. Bezinover and F. Saner [Eds.]) focuses on patients with end-stage-liver disease (ESLD) who could possibly qualify for liver transplant. This patient cohort raises many problems: who should be treated and also, when is it too late for transplant? The authors are all dedicated experts in the field of ESLD/liver transplantation, but from different disciplines with different views of the problem.
In the past 15 years many things have changed in the treatment for these patients: cardiac assessment, treatment of porto-pulmonary hypertension, hemodynamics, coagulation assessment and management, diagnosis of kidney failure, and the timing of dialysis. These issues are comprehensively discussed in this book, in order to provide physicians starting in the field of transplantation an overview of different areas of concern.
This book is aimed at specialists and trainees in critical care, hepatology, anesthesia, surgery, and nephrology.

N. Raschzok, K.H. Hillebrandt and I.M. Sauer contributed with the chapter "Liver Assist Systems for Bridging to Transplantation: Devices and Concepts".

More information via this link.
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Composite tissue allotransplantation: opportunities and challenges
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"Composite tissue allotransplantation: opportunities and challenges" is available in Cellular & Molecular Immunology (Cell Mol Immunol. 2019 Mar 6. doi: 10.1038/s41423-019-0215-3. [Epub ahead of print]). Authors are J. Iske, Y. Nian, R. Maenosono, M. Maurer, I.M. Sauer & S.G. Tullius.

Vascularized composite allotransplants (VCAs) have unique properties because of diverse tissue components transplanted en mass as a single unit. In addition to surgery, this type of transplant also faces enormous immunological challenges that demand a detailed analysis of all aspects of alloimmune responses, organ preservation, and injury, as well as the immunogenicity of various tissues within the VCA grafts to further improve graft and patient outcomes. Moreover, the side effects of long-term immunosuppression for VCA patients need to be carefully balanced with the potential benefit of a non-life-saving procedure. In this review article, we provide a comprehensive update on limb and face transplantation, with a specific emphasis on the alloimmune responses to VCA, established and novel immunosuppressive treatments, and patient outcomes.
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Human stem cells promote liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy
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"Human Stem Cells Promote Liver Regeneration After Partial Hepatectomy in BALB/C Nude Mice" will be published in J Surg Res. 2019 (Mar 4;239:191-200. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.02.010. [Epub ahead of print]).
Authors are S. Wabitsch, Ch. Benzing, F. Krenzien, K. Splith, P.K. Haber, A. Arnold, M. Nösser, C. Kamalia, F. Hermann, Ch. Günther, D. Hirsch, I.M. Sauer, J. Pratschke, and M. Schmelzle.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been suggested to augment liver regeneration after surgically and pharmacologically induced liver failure. To further investigate this we processed human bone marrow-derived MSC according to good manufacturing practice (GMP) and tested those cells for their modulatory capacities of metabolic alterations and liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy in BALB/c nude mice.

Human bone marrow-derived MSC attenuate metabolic alterations and improve liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy in BALB/c nude mice. Obtained results using GMP-processed human MSC suggest functional links between fat accumulation and hepatocyte proliferation, without any evidence for cellular homing. This study using GMP-proceeded MSC has important regulatory implications for an urgently needed translation into a clinical trial.
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Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging using a preclinical 1 T PET/MRI
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"Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging using a preclinical 1 T PET/MRI in healthy and tumor-bearing rats" was published in EJNMMI Res. 2019 Feb 22;9(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s13550-019-0489-6.
Authors are J. Albrecht, D. Polenz, A.A. Kühl, J.M.M. Rogasch, A. Leder, I.M. Sauer, M. Babos, G. Mócsai, N. Beindorff, I.G. Steffen, W. Brenner, and E.J. Koziolek.

Hybrid positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) scanners are increasingly used for both clinical and preclinical imaging. Especially functional MRI sequences such as diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) are of great interest as they provide information on a molecular level, thus, can be used as surrogate biomarkers. Due to technical restrictions, MR sequences need to be adapted for each system to perform reliable imaging. There is, to our knowledge, no suitable DWI protocol for 1 Tesla PET/MRI scanners.
We established a respiratory-gated DWI protocol for a preclinical 1 T PET/MRI scanner allowing to monitor growth-related changes in ADC values of orthotopic HCC liver tumors. By monitoring the changes in tumor ADCs over time, different cellular stages were described. However, each study needs to adapt the protocol further according to their question to generate best possible results.
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Comparison of AR HMDs in Visceral Surgery
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"Real World Usability Analysis of two Augmented Reality Headsets in Visceral Surgery" was accepted for publication in Artificial Organs. Authors are S. Moosburner, C. Remde, P. Tang, M. Queisner, N. Haep, J. Pratschke, and I.M. Sauer.

Recent developments in the field of augmented reality (AR) have enabled new use cases in surgery. Initial set-up of an appropriate infrastructure for maintaining an AR surgical workflow requires investment in appropriate hardware. We compared the usability of the Microsoft HoloLens and Meta 2 head mounted displays (HMDs). Fifteen medicine students tested each device and were questioned with a variant of the System Usability Scale (SUS). Two surgeons independently tested the devices in an intraoperative setting.
In our adapted SUS, ergonomics, ease of use and visual clarity of the display did not differ significantly between HMD groups. The field of view (FOV) was smaller in the Microsoft HoloLens than the Meta 2 and significantly more study subjects (80% vs. 13.3%; p < 0.001) felt limited through the FOV. Intraoperatively, decreased mobility due to the necessity of an AC adapter and additional computing device for the Meta 2 proved to be limiting. Object stability was rated superior in the Microsoft HoloLens than the Meta 2 by our surgeons and lead to increased use.
We examined the Meta 2 and the Microsoft HoloLens and found key advantages in the Microsoft HoloLens which provided palpable benefits in a surgical setting.
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Nanomolar sensing of NAD
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"The nanomolar sensing of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide in human plasma using a cycling assay in albumin modified simulated body fluids." was published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Authors are P. Brunnbauer, A. Leder, C. Kamali, K. Kamali, E. Keshi, K. Splith, S. Wabitsch, P. Haber, G. Atanasov, L. Feldbrügge, I.M. Sauer, J. Pratschke, M. Schmelzle, and F. Krenzien.

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a prominent member of the pyridine nucleotide family, plays a pivotal role in cell-oxidation protection, DNA repair, cell signalling and central metabolic pathways, such as beta oxidation, glycolysis and the citric acid cycle. In particular, extracellular NAD+ has recently been demonstrated to moderate pathogenesis of multiple systemic diseases as well as aging. Herein we present an assaying method, that serves to quantify extracellular NAD+ in human heparinised plasma and exhibits a sensitivity ranging from the low micromolar into the low nanomolar domain. The assay achieves the quantification of extracellular NAD+ by means of a two-step enzymatic cycling reaction, based on alcohol dehydrogenase. An albumin modified revised simulated body fluid was employed as standard matrix in order to optimise enzymatic activity and enhance the linear behaviour and sensitivity of the method. In addition, we evaluated assay linearity, reproducibility and confirmed long-term storage stability of extracellular NAD+ in frozen human heparinised plasma. In summary, our findings pose a novel standardised method suitable for high throughput screenings of extracellular NAD+ levels in human heparinised plasma, paving the way for new clinical discovery studies.
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Normothermic ex vivo machine perfusion
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"Improvement of normothermic ex vivo machine perfusion of rat liver grafts by dialysis and Kupffer Cell inhibition with glycine" was accepted for publication in Liver Transplantation.
Authors are J. Gassner, M. Nösser, S. Moosburner, R. Horner, P. Tang, L. Wegener, D. Wyrwal, F. Claussen, R. Arsenic, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.

Normothermic ex vivo liver machine perfusion might be a superior preservation strategy for liver grafts from extended criteria donors. However, standardized small animal models are not available for basic research on machine perfusion of liver grafts. A laboratory-scaled perfusion system was developed consisting of a custom-made perfusion chamber, a pressure-controlled roller pump, and an oxygenator. Male Wistar rat livers were perfused via the portal vein for 6 hours using oxygenated culture medium supplemented with rat erythrocytes. A separate circuit was connected via a dialysis membrane to the main circuit for plasma volume expansion. Glycine was added to the flush solution, the perfusate, and the perfusion circuit. Portal pressure and transaminase release were stable over the perfusion period. Dialysis significantly decreased the potassium concentration of the perfusate and led to significantly higher bile and total urea production. Hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunostaining for ssDNA and activated caspase 3 showed less sinusoidal dilatation and tissue damage in livers treated with dialysis and glycine. While Kupffer cells were preserved, tumor necrosis factor α mRNA levels were significantly decreased by both treatments. For proof of concept, the optimized perfusion protocol was tested with DCD grafts, resulting in significantly lower transaminase release into the perfusate and preserved liver architecture compared to baseline perfusion.
Our laboratory-scale normothermic portovenous ex vivo liver perfusion system enables rat liver preservation for 6 hours. Both dialysis and glycine treatment were shown to be synergistic for preservation of the integrity of normal and DCD liver grafts.
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