Clinical detection of free flap failure lacks sensitivity. Failure is likely accompanied by altered gene expression; however, a genomic approach that identifies potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets has not been described. This study identifies genetic RNA expression alterations via microarray in a free flap failure animal model.A free tissue transfer rat model based on the inferior epigastric vessels was utilized. After microscopic anastomosis, the vein was occluded and RNA extracted from flap tissue of failure and control groups. Gene expression of 3 experimental and control group samples was assessed with the Affymetrix GeneChip Rat 230 v2.0 microarray. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was performed on RNA of genes identified on an additional 6 experimental and 7 control group flaps.Eight hundred ninety of 28,000 genes had greater than 2-fold expression differences between experimental and controls. Student t test and 2-way analysis of variance filtering with equal variance identified 53 genes with statistically significant differences. Hierarchical clustering by gene ontology identified 4 genes with likely involvement in failure pathogenesis: RT1 class II, locus Bb, secreted frizzled-related protein 1, platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule, and Claudin 5. Validation performed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction revealed statistically significant expression alterations in locus Bb, platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule, and Claudin 5 of the failure group. Utilizing expression thresholds for test positivity, venous occlusion was predicted with 100% sensitivity and 86% specificity.Three highly sensitive and specific novel genes predictive of flap failure from venous occlusion were identified with altered expression in an animal model.
- Free flap
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