Laryngeal transplantation is an increasingly viable proposition for patients with irreversible diseases of the larynx. One human transplant has been performed successfully, but many questions remain before routine transplantation can begin. In order to measure the immunological changes in mismatched transplants, it is first necessary to know the immediate combined effects of ischaemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) plus the added insult of major surgery in a fully matched setting. We measured the changes in immunologically active mucosal cells following 3 h of cold ischaemia and 8 h of in situ reperfusion in a major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-matched minipig model (n = 4). Biopsies were prepared for quantitative, multiple-colour immunofluorescence histology. The number of immunologically active cells was significantly altered above (supraglottis) and below (subglottis) the vocal cords following transplantation and reperfusion (P < 0.05, P < 0.001, respectively). However, the direction of the change differed between the two subsites: cell numbers decreased post-transplant in the supraglottis and increased in the subglottis. Despite the statistical evidence for IRI, these changes were less than the large normal inter- and intrapig variation in cell counts. Therefore, the significance of IRI in exacerbating loss of function or rejection of a laryngeal allograft is open to question. Longer-term studies are required.
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