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Br J Surg. 2009 Nov;96(11):1323-35. doi: 10.1002/bjs.6722.

Non-viral Smad7 gene delivery and attenuation of postoperative peritoneal adhesion in an experimental model.

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Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.



Postoperative intra-abdominal adhesion is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Smad7, a protein that occupies a strategic position in fibrogenesis, inhibits the transforming growth factor (TGF) beta/Smad signalling pathway. In this study the therapeutic potential of exogenous Smad7 in preventing fibrogenesis in postoperative intra-abdominal adhesion was investigated.


Intra-abdominal adhesion was induced in a rodent model by peritoneal abrasion. Smad7 was delivered into the peritoneal cavity by a non-viral ultrasound-microbubble-mediated naked gene transfection system. The effect of Smad7 transgene on adhesion formation was studied by measuring changes in TGF-beta, fibrogenic factors, alpha-SMA and Smad2/3 activation in the anterior abdominal wall.


Four weeks after surgical abrasion, all rats developed significant peritoneal adhesion with enhanced TGF-beta expression, increased levels of extracellular matrix components and activated myofibroblasts, accompanied by decreased Smad7 expression and increased Smad2/3 activation. In rats treated with the Smad7 transgene, the incidence and severity of peritoneal adhesion were significantly reduced, with biochemical downregulation of fibrogenic factors and inhibition of Smad2/3 activation. Serial quantitation using magnetic resonance imaging revealed a significant reduction in adhesion areas from day 14 onwards.


Ultrasound-microbubble-mediated gene transfection provides timely targeted gene delivery for the treatment of postoperative peritoneal adhesions.

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