• Bone marrow stromal cells;
  • stem cells;
  • ischemia;
  • cutaneous flaps;
  • free tissue transfer;
  • wound healing;
  • Level of Evidence: NA


To determine if the intravascular delivery of mesenchymal stem cells improves wound healing and blood perfusion to postischemic cutaneous flap tissues.

Study Design

Randomized controlled study.


A murine model of a cutaneous flap was created based on the inferior epigastric vessels. Mice (n = 14) underwent 3.5 hours of ischemia followed by reperfusion. Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) 1 × 106 were injected intravenously. Wound healing was then assessed measuring percent flap necrosis, flap perfusion, and tensile strength of the flap after a period of 14 days. Localization of BMSCs was determined with radiolabeled and fluorescent labeled BMSCs.


Postischemic cutaneous flap tissues treated with BMSCs demonstrated significantly less necrosis than control flaps (P <0.01). Beginning on postoperative day 5, BMSC-treated flaps demonstrated greater blood perfusion than untreated flaps (P <0.01). Tensile strength of BMSC-treated cutaneous flaps was significantly higher (P <0.01), with a mean strength of 283.4 ± 28.4 N/m than control flaps with a mean of 122.4 ± 23.5 N/m. Radiolabeled BMSCs localized to postischemic flaps compared to untreated tissues (P = 0.001). Fluorescent microscopy revealed incorporation of BMSCs into endothelial and epithelial tissues of postischemic flaps.


This study demonstrates that the intravascular delivery of BMSCs increases wound healing and promotes flap survival following ischemia-reperfusion injury of cutaneous tissue flaps. Laryngoscope, 124:642–648, 2014