This study was designed to investigate the effects of a modified University of Wisconsin (UW) solution supplemented with one of four buffering agents (histidine, bicine [N,N-bis(2-hydroxyethyl)glycine], tricine [N-tris(hydroxymethyl)methylglycine], and Tris) on liver metabolism during cold ischemic storage. Rat livers were flushed and stored for a maximum period of 24 hr at 4 degrees C, and tissue energetics, substrate, and anaerobic end-products were assessed; the group exhibiting the best results during storage was recovered in a 60-min period of warm reperfusion. Relative buffering capacities of the experimental solutions (measured over physiological pH range, in mM H+/L) were: UW, 4.1; histidine+UW, 9.8; Tris+UW, 19.0; bicine+UW, 22.5; tricine+UW, 26.8. In the UW group, ATP levels dropped rapidly over the first 4 hr; 1.0 micromol/g (40% of initial) remained after 4 hr of storage. By 2 hr, ATP levels in bicine- and tricine-treated groups were 0.5 and 1.1 micromol/g greater than in the UW-stored livers and by 10 hr, ATP in bicine-treated livers was twofold that of the control (UW) group. Total adenylate levels also reflected a superior elevation of cellular energetics; even after 24 hr, quantities were 1.4 and 2.0 micromol/g higher than the UW group in bicine- and histidine-supplemented organs. The increase in energetics occurred as a result of increased flux through the major anaerobic energy-producing pathway, glycolysis. The glycolytic rate was significantly greater at storage times > 10 hr with solutions supplemented with bicine, histidine, and tricine. Final values for net lactate accumulation over the entire 24-hr storage period were: UW, 10.1 micromol/g; histidine, 14.3 micromol/g; bicine, 15.2 micromol/g; tricine, 13.8 micromol/g. Activities of glycogen phosphorylase revealed that the activity of this enzyme dropped by 50% within 2 hr of storage in UW. However, histidine and bicine supplementation resulted in a substantial elevation of phosphorylase "a" over 4 hr and 10 hr, respectively. The best buffer of the four examined in this study was bicine; energetics, glycolytic flux, and patterns of adenylate regeneration upon reperfusion were markedly superior to modified UW solution. The results of this study suggest that supplementing the "gold standard" UW solution with an additional buffering agent (in order of efficacy: bicine>tricine>histidine) may improve the metabolic status of livers during clinical organ retrieval/storage.
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