Enhancement of ischemic flap survival by prefabrication with transfer of exogenous PDGF gene

Paul Y. Liu, Xiao Tian Wang, Evangelos Badiavas, Kimberley Rieger-Christ, Jin Bo Tang, Ian Summerhayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Treatment of skin flaps by means of gene therapy has been introduced recently as a novel approach to enhance viability of ischemic skin flaps. Transfer of the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) to enhance survival of the ischemic skin flap has not been explored. In this study, the authors investigated the effect of the transfer of the PDGF cDNA on survival and vascularity of the ischemic random flap in a rat model, and compared the effects of PDGF gene therapy to those of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene therapy. A total of 45 adult Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into four groups. The PDGF gene therapy group (n = 10) received the plasmid containing the PDGF cDNA with liposome injected to the dermis of the flap. A saline control group (n = 10) received physiologic saline only, and the vector control group (n = 10) received liposome plus vector without the PDGF gene segment. In the fourth group (n = 15), the VEGF gene was transferred to the flap. Seven days later, a dorsal random flap including the injection area was raised. One rat each from the saline and vector control groups died during the study period and were excluded. The viability of the flap and vascularity within the flaps were assessed 7 days after flap elevation. The PDGF plasmid-treated flaps had significantly greater survival area (60.8 ± 7.8 percent) compared with the flaps treated with saline (52.3 ± 5.0 percent) and those treated with liposome and vector (50.7 ± 5.9 percent). PDGF gene therapy had effects on survival of the flap similar to VEGF gene therapy (57.6 ± 5.2 percent, after transfer of VEGF cDNA). Neovascularization with the flap tissues was confirmed by immunohistochemical staining of von Willebrand factor, a marker specific for angiogenesis. The number of newly-formed blood vessels in the transgenic flaps was significantly greater than that of the vessels in the flaps receiving the saline. The findings of this study indicate that transfer of the PDGF cDNA effectively enhances neovascularization of the ischemic skin flap and increases the viability of the flap, and transfer of the PDGF gene is as efficient as transfer of the VEGF gene in improving viability of the skin flap. This study suggests that PDGF gene therapy may be a novel strategy for the treatment of ischemic skin flaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-279
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Reconstructive Microsurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene therapy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ischemia
  • Neovascularization
  • Skin flap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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