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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 27;13(12):e0209624. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209624. eCollection 2018.

Ischemia-reperfusion injury in a rat microvascular skin free flap model: A histological, genetic, and blood flow study.

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Department of Microsurgery, Jesús Usón Minimally Invasive Surgery Centre, Cáceres, Spain.
Stem Cell Therapy Unit, Jesús Usón Minimally Invasive Surgery Centre, Cáceres, Spain.


Ischemia reperfusion injury is associated with tissue damage and inflammation, and is one of the main factors causing flap failure in reconstructive microsurgery. Although ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury is a well-studied aspect of flap survival, its biological mechanisms remain to be elucidated. To better understand the biological processes of ischemia reperfusion injury, and to develop further therapeutic strategies, the main objective of this study was to identify the gene expression pattern and histological changes in an I/R injury animal model. Fourteen rats (n = 7/group) were randomly divided into control or ischemia-reperfusion group (8 hours of ischemia). Microsurgical anastomoses were objectively assessed using transit-time-ultrasound technology. Seven days after surgery, flap survival was evaluated and tissue samples were harvested for anatomopathological and gene-expression analyses.The I/R injury reduced the survival of free flaps and histological analyses revealed a subcutaneous edema together with an inflammatory infiltrate. Interestingly, the Arginase 1 expression level as well as the ratio of Arginase 1/Nitric oxide synthase 2 showed a significant increase in the I/R group. In summary, here we describe a well-characterized I/R animal model that may serve to evaluate therapeutic agents under reproducible and controlled conditions. Moreover, this model could be especially useful for the evaluation of arginase inhibitors and different compounds of potential interest in reconstructive microsurgery.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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