Flap necrosis is the most frequent postoperative complication encountered in reconstructive surgery. We elucidated whether adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) and their derivatives might induce neovascularization and protect skin flaps during ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. Flaps were subjected to 3 hours of ischemia by ligating long thoracic vessels and then to blood reperfusion. Qtracker-labeled ADSCs, ADSCs in conditioned medium (ADSC-CM), or ADSC exosomes (ADSC-Exo) were injected into the flaps. These treatments led to significantly increased flap survival and capillary density compared with I/R on postoperative day 5. IL-6 levels in the cell lysates or in conditioned medium were significantly higher in ADSCs than in Hs68 fibroblasts. ADSC-CM and ADSC-Exo increased tube formation. This result was corroborated by a strong decrease in skin repair after adding IL-6–neutralizing antibodies or small interfering RNA for IL-6 ADSCs. ADSC transplantation also increased flap recovery in I/R injury of IL-6–knockout mice. IL-6 was secreted from ADSCs through signal transducer and activator of transcription phosphorylation, and then IL-6 stimulated angiogenesis and enhanced recovery after I/R injury by the classic signaling pathway. The mechanism of skin recovery includes the direct differentiation of ADSCs into endothelial cells and the indirect effect of IL-6 released from ADSCs. ADSC-CM and ADSC-Exo could be used as off-the-shelf products for this therapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology