Skin damage induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is a multifactorial process that often occurs in plastic surgery. The mechanisms of I/R injury include hypoxia, inflammation, and oxidative damage. Hydrogen gas has been reported to alleviate cerebral I/R injury by acting as a free radical scavenger. Here, we assessed the protective effect of hydrogen-rich saline (HRS) on skin flap I/R injury.
Abdominal skin flaps of rats were elevated and ischemia was induced for 3 h; subsequently, HRS or physiological saline was administered intraperitoneally 10 min before reperfusion. On postoperative Day 5, flap survival, blood perfusion, the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and levels of cytokines were evaluated. Histological examinations were performed to assess inflammatory cell infiltration.
Skin flap survival and blood flow perfusion were improved by HRS relative to the controls. The production of malondialdehyde (MDA), an indicator of lipid peroxidation, was markedly reduced. A multiplex cytokine assay revealed
that HRS reduced the elevation in the levels of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and growth factors, with the exception of RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted) growth factor. HRS treatment also reduced inflammatory cell infiltration induced by I/R injury.
Our findings suggest that HRS mitigates I/R injury by decreasing inflammation and, therefore, has the potential for application as a therapy for improving skin flap survival.