Improvement of Flap Necrosis in a Rat Random Skin Flap Model by In Vivo Electroporation-Mediated HGF Gene Transfer

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Background:Despite great understanding of underlying mechanisms for flap necrosis and advances in surgical techniques, flap necrosis remains a critical issue. In the present study, the authors investigated the efficacy of electroporation-mediated hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) gene delivery to random dorsal skin flaps (McFarlane) to accelerate wound healing and reduce flap necrosis.Methods:Fifteen male Wistar rats (290 to 320 g) were divided randomly into three groups. Group a, the control group (n = 5), underwent surgery and received no gene transfer. Group b received electroporation-mediated HGF gene delivery 24 hours after surgery as a treatment. Group c received electroporation-mediated HGF gene delivery 24 hours before surgery as prophylaxis (n = 5). Planimetry, laser Doppler imaging, and immunohistochemistry were used to assess the efficacy of HGF gene therapy among the groups.Results:Electroporation-mediated HGF gene delivery significantly decreased flap necrosis percentage compared with the control group in prophylactic and treatment groups (p = 0.0317 and p = 0.0079, respectively) and significantly increased cutaneous perfusion compared with the control group (p = 0.0317 and p = 0.0159, respectively). Moreover, Spearman rank correlation showed a significant negative correlation between flap necrosis percentage and laser index (p = 0.0213 and r = −0.5964, respectively). Furthermore, significantly higher mean CD31+ vessel density was detected in treatment and prophylactic groups (p = 0.0079 and p = 0.0159, respectively). In addition, quantitative image analysis revealed significantly higher HGF protein expression in groups b and c (p = 0.0079 and p = 0.0079, respectively).Conclusion:These findings suggested in vivo electroporation-mediated HGF gene delivery enhanced viability and vascularity of the ischemic skin flap.

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