Gene therapy using wound healing-associated growth factor gene has received much attention as a new strategy for improving the outcome of tissue transplantation. We delivered plasmid DNA coding for human hepatocyte growth factor (hHGF) to rat free skin grafts by the use of laser-induced stress waves (LISWs); autografting was performed with the grafts. Systematic analysis was conducted to evaluate the adhesion properties of the grafted tissue; angiogenesis, cell proliferation, and reepithelialization were assessed by immunohistochemistry, and reperfusion was measured by laser Doppler imaging as a function of time after grafting. Both the level of angiogenesis on day 3 after grafting and the increased ratio of blood flow on day 4 to that on day 3 were significantly higher than those in five control groups: grafting with hHGF gene injection alone, grafting with control plasmid vector injection alone, grafting with LISW application alone, grafting with LISW application after control plasmid vector injection, and normal grafting. Reepithelialization was almost completed on day 7 even at the center of the graft with LISW application after hHGF gene injection, while it was not for the grafts of the five control groups. These findings demonstrate the validity of our LISW-based HGF gene transfection to accelerate the adhesion of grafted skins.
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