Methane-rich saline attenuates ischemia/reperfusion injury of abdominal skin flaps in rats via regulating apoptosis level
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Abstract Background In plastic surgery, skin damage induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is a multifactorial process that often occurs. Methane gas has been reported to be a new therapeutic gas for attenuating I/R injury. In this study, we assessed the effects of methane-rich saline (MRS) in regulating apoptosis on skin flap I/R injury. Methods Male Sprague–Dawley rats, 6–8 weeks old, were divided randomly into three groups: one sham surgery group (SH) and two surgery groups. After undergoing 6 h of I/R management of an abdominal skin flap, surgery groups were treated with physiological saline (I/R-P) or methane-rich saline (I/R-M). On the 3rd postoperative day, a laser Doppler flowmeter was used to measure flap blood supply, and hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining was used to observe morphological changes. TdT-mediated dUTP-X nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining was also used to observe early apoptosis and is presented as the percentage of TUNEL-positive cells. Moreover, pASK-1, pJNK, Bcl-2 and Bax were detected by immunohistochemical technology. Caspase-3 activity was also measured to evaluate the effects of MRS. Results Compared to the I/R-P group, the flaps in the I/R-M group presented a larger survival area and better blood perfusion with less inflammatory infiltration and cell apoptosis, a higher expression of Bcl-2, a lower expression of pASK-1, pJNK and Bax, and a lower caspase-3 activity. Conclusion According to the results, MRS attenuated I/R injury by regulating apoptosis and has the potential to be applied as a new therapy for improving skin flap survival.