Ischemia reperfusion injury is one of the major complications responsible for delayed graft function in kidney transplantation. Applications to reduce reperfusion injury are essential due to the widespread use of kidneys from deceased organ donors where the risk for delayed graft function is especially prominent. We have recently shown that coating of inflamed or damaged endothelial cells with a unique heparin conjugate reduces thrombosis and leukocyte recruitment. In this study we evaluated the binding capacity of the heparin conjugate to cultured human endothelial cells, to kidneys from brain-dead porcine donors, and to murine kidneys during static cold storage. The heparin conjugate was able to stably bind cultured endothelial cells with high avidity, and to the renal vasculature of explanted kidneys from pigs and mice. Treatment of murine kidneys prior to transplantation reduced platelet deposition and leukocyte infiltration 24 hours post-transplantation, and significantly improved graft function. The present study thus shows the benefits of enhanced protection of the renal vasculature during cold storage, whereby increasing the antithrombotic and anti-adhesive properties of the vascular endothelium yields improved renal function early after transplantation.
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