Controlled Reperfusion of the Whole Body


Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in industrialized countries. For example in Germany about 100.000 to 200.000 people are suffering from sudden cardiac arrest requiring immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Survival is rare in these cases and frequently associated with severe and persistent neurological impairment.

These severe disorders of the whole body and the brain are potentially caused by an ischemia/reperfusion injury. Ischemia/reperfusion injury is known as a pathophysiological phenomenon leading to cellular injury with subsequent organ failure or death of the organism. Ischemia itself causes a lack of substrates and energy leading to an ongoing metabolic imbalance within the cell. Beyond this ischemic damage, a sudden replenishment of these nutrients in an uncontrolled fashion (“reperfusion”) may enhances deleterious cellular processes. However, despite the inevitable occurrence of reperfusion injury, tissue and organs can be salvaged for much longer intervals if the reperfusion is performed in a “controlled fashion”.

Based on the knowledge in other solid organs like kidney, lung, liver and skeletal muscle, Prof. Beyersdorf and his group have performed extensive research in the field of reperfusion after ischemic events of the whole body. The goal of this research, which started in 2004, is a more profound understanding of the occurrence and avoidance of ischemia/reperfusion injury after global ischemia. Part of this expertise has been the proof of the limitation of ischemia/reperfusion injury in a designated animal model. The knowledge derived from the porcine studies is currently transferred into new therapeutic strategies for patients undergoing sudden cardiac arrest.

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