Genetically modified fibroblasts induce angiogenesis in the rat epigastric island flap

Hans Guenther Machens, Jeffrey R. Morgan, Francois Berthiaume, Peter Stefanovich, Ralf Reimer, Alfred C. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Methods: Gene therapy was tested for inducing functional angiogenesis in the superficial rat epigastric island flap to allow earlier pedicle division. Autologous rat fibroblasts were grown, harvested, cultured and retrovirally transfected to produce platelet-derived growth factor AA (PDGF-AA), an angiogenetically active protein. Stable gene expression was monitored by PDGF-AA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). One hundred and eighty animals were divided into three groups (I-III) and a bilateral flap created in each animal. In all experiments, the right-sided flap was subjected to experimental treatment and the left-sided flap served as control (1 ml saline 0.9%). During flap elevation, group I received 5x106 GMFB (genetically modified fibroblasts) plus 1 ml Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium. Group II was treated with 5x106 NMFB (non-modified fibroblasts) plus 1 ml medium and group III received 1 ml medium only. The flaps were sutured back and the vascular pedicle was bilaterally ligated and divided in each of ten animals during the following 6 days. After 7 days, the flaps were harvested, the amount of necrosis measured and histologically examined. Results: The GMFB produced up to 560 times more PDGF-AA than the NMFB, measured by ELISA. The GMFB-treated flaps tolerated surgical division of the vascular pedicle significantly earlier than groups II and III. Histologically, fibroblasts persisted in all flaps of groups I and II, without major inflammatory reaction. In all GMFB-treated flaps, massive angiogenesis could be demonstrated. Conclusion: By means of retroviral gene transfer, autologous rat fibroblasts can be genetically modified for stable expression of the PDGF-A gene to produce high amounts of PDGF-AA, which is an, giogenetically active. After injection into the panniculus carnosus, these cells induce functional angiogenesis to permit earlier division of the vascular pedicle in this flap model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-350
Number of pages6
JournalLangenbeck's Archives of Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Flaps
  • Gene transfer


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