Imatinib Is Protective Against Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury in an Ex Vivo Rabbit Model of Lung Injury

J. Trent Magruder, Joshua C. Grimm, Todd C. Crawford, Laura Johnston, Lakshmi Santhanam, R. Scott Stephens, Dan E. Berkowitz, Ashish S. Shah, Errol L. Bush, Mahendra Damarla, Rachel L. Damico, Paul M. Hassoun, Bo S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ischemia-reperfusion injury is characterized by an increase in oxidative stress and leads to significant morbidity and death. The tyrosine kinase c-Abl is activated by oxidative stress and mediates processes that affect endothelial barrier function. We hypothesized treatment with the c-Abl inhibitor imatinib would be protective against ischemia-reperfusion injury in our ex vivo rabbit model. Methods: Heart-lung blocs were harvested from rabbits and stored in cold in Perfadex (Vitrolife, Englewood, CO) for 18 hours. Blocs were reperfused for 2 hours in an ex vivo circuit with donor rabbit blood alone (untreated group, n = 7) or donor rabbit blood and 4 mg imatinib (treatment group, n = 10). Serial clinical variables measured every 15 minutes (arterial oxygen and carbon dioxide tension and mean pulmonary artery pressures) and biochemistry of tissue samples before and after reperfusion were assessed. Results: Compared with untreated lungs, imatinib treatment improved physiologic parameters, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pulmonary artery pressures. Imatinib-treated lungs had less vascular barrier dysfunction as quantified by wet-to-dry weight ratios and bronchoalveolar lavage protein concentrations. Treated lungs showed less inflammation as measured by bronchoalveolar lavage myeloperoxidase assay, less mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, and increased antioxidant catalase levels. Finally, imatinib protected lungs from DNA damage and p53 upregulation. Conclusions: Imatinib treatment significantly improved the physiologic performance of reperfused lungs and biochemical indicators associated with reperfusion injury in this ex vivo model. Further study is necessary to elucidate the mechanism of tyrosine kinase inhibition in lungs exposed to ischemia and reperfusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-956
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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