Application of AAV2-Mediated bFGF Gene Therapy on Survival of Ischemic Flaps: Effects of Timing of Gene Transfer

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Necrosis of surgically transferred flaps is a major problem in reconstructive surgery. We investigated efficacy of a new vector system—adeno-associated viral 2 (AAV2)-mediated bFGF gene transfer to enhance survival of the ischemic flap. Thirty-eight Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into 3 gene therapy groups and 1 nontreated control of 9 or 10 each. 7.5 × 1010 AAV2-bFGF viral particles were injected to the dorsum of each of the 29 rats; these rats were divided into 3 groups according to the timing of flap elevation. At the time of surgery, 1 week, and 2 weeks after surgery, flaps of 3 × 7 cm were raised. One week after surgery, flap viability was measured. Vascularization and immunohistochemical staining of the bFGF were evaluated of histologic sections. Flap viability was significantly improved by the AAV2-bFGF gene therapy at the time of surgery, and the flaps with the greatest survival area were found in the rats injected with AAV2-bFGF, 2 weeks before surgery. However, flap viability was significantly decreased by the gene therapy 1 week before surgery. Histologically, vascularity was increased in the groups with AAV2-bFGF injection and immunohistochemical staining showed greatly enhanced bFGF expression by gene transfer. The novel approach of AAV2-bFGF gene therapy shows encouraging manifestations in improving survival of flaps when the flaps are prefabricated during or 2 weeks before surgery.

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