The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that mitochondrial permeability transition might be implicated in mitochondrial and intact organ dysfunctions associated with damage induced by reperfusion after cold ischaemia. Energetic metabolism was assessed continuously by 31P-NMR on a model system of isolated perfused rat liver; mitochondria were extracted from the livers and studied by using top-down control analysis. During the temperature transition from hypothermic to normothermic perfusion (from 4 to 37 °C) the ATP content of the perfused organ fell rapidly, and top-down metabolic control analysis of damaged mitochondria revealed a specific control pattern characterized by a dysfunction of the phosphorylation subsystem leading to a decreased response to cellular ATP demand. Both dysfunctions were fully prevented by cyclosporin A, a specific inhibitor of the mitochondrial transition pore (MTP). These results strongly suggest the involvement of the opening of MTP in vivo during the transition to normothermia on rat liver mitochondrial function and organ energetics.

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