Role of neural and humoral factors in hyperdynamic reaction and cardiac dysfunction following brain death

Gábor Szabó, Thilo Hackert, Christian Sebening, Sergei Melnitchuk, Christian F. Vahl, Siegfried Hagl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although hemodynamic instability and cardiac dysfunction after brain death are reported in the potential organ donor, the underlying mechanisms, for example, neurohumoral changes, myocardial injury, and altered loading conditions, have not been differentiated in clinical and experimental settings. In the present study, we performed a load-independent analysis of cardiac function, focusing on the influence of brain death-associated neural and humoral factors. Methods: In a canine in situ cross-circulated heart model, brain death was induced by inflation of a subdural balloon catheter. Preload, afterload, and coronary perfusion pressure were kept identical in all hearts throughout the experiment. In Group H (humoral factors), the hearts of healthy dogs were perfused with blood from brain-dead support dogs (n = 6). In Group N (neural factors), the hearts of brain-dead dogs were perfused with blood from healthy support dogs (n = 6). In Group H + N (humoral and neural factors), the hearts of brain-dead dogs were perfused parabiotically in situ with the animals' own blood (n = 6). Systolic and diastolic pressure-volume relationships and coronary blood flow were measured. Results: Induction of brain death led to a significant hyperdynamic response in all groups, with a maximal reaction in Group H + N followed by Group H and Group N. After the initial hyperdynamic phase, cardiac function returned to baseline within 15 minutes and remained stable in all groups for the 2-hour observation period. Conclusions: (1) Both neural and humoral factors contribute to the initial hyperdynamic reaction after brain death, and only in combination do they cause a maximal hemodynamic effect. (2) If loading conditions and perfusion pressure are kept constant, no cardiac dysfunction occurs after brain death. This indicates that poor cardiac function in the potential donor may reflect altered loading conditions and impaired coronary perfusion rather than neurohumorally mediated direct myocardial injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-693
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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