Recombinant Human Erythropoietin Influences Revascularization and Healing in a Rat Model of Random Ischaemic Flaps
In order to ascertain whether erythropoietin plays a role in early and late repair processes following ischaemic skin flap injury, a dorsal, caudally based skin flap was created in rats. The rats were successively divided into four groups. Group 1 was not treated. The other groups were treated with a subcutaneous administration of 0.9% NaCl saline solution (group 2), a subcutaneous administration of vehicle (group 3) or a subcutaneous administration of 300 IU/kg/day of recombinant human erythropoietin (group 4). We evaluated the possible relationships between neutrophil accumulation, myeloperoxidase activity and content in flap tissue, flap survival, flap temperature (using telethermography) and flap revascularization (using videocapillaroscopy). Necrosis in the flap was significantly less extensive in group 4 than in groups 1, 2 and 3. A significant increase in neutrophil infiltration occurred between the 1st and 24th hour in these groups, but this was not observed in group 4. These findings were confirmed by biochemical data of myeloperoxidase activity and malonyldialdehyde content. Between the 1st and 7th days, we recorded an increase of about 20% in flap temperature in groups 1, 2 and 3, whereas no significant variation was observed in group 4. On the 7th day, videocapillaroscopic findings showed an increase in the mean vascularization index in group 4. Our findings suggest that recombinant human erythropoietin administration can improve the wound healing process, in both early and late stages of injury, by reducing inflammatory response, increasing the density of capillaries in ischaemic flaps and allowing earlier repair of a damaged area.