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

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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.


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.


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).


These findings suggested in vivo electroporation-mediated HGF gene delivery enhanced viability and vascularity of the ischemic skin flap.

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