BACKGROUND: Myocardial salvage after coverage with a fat flap was recently demonstrated in acute coronary occlusion. The effect of this novel therapeutic strategy on a chronic myocardial scar is unknown.
METHODS: Myocardial infarction (MI) was induced by coil deployment in the mid circumflex artery in the swine model. Two weeks after infarction, a pericardial-derived adipose flap was transposed, fully covering the scar, in the treated group. Infarct size and histopathology were analyzed on post mortem sections. To assess cell migration, adenoviral eGFP vectors were injected in the adipose flap and expression was evaluated upon sacrifice both at the flap and myocardium. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to measure left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction and ventricular volumes at baseline, 2 weeks post-MI, and at 6 weeks.
RESULTS: One month after flap transposition, histopathology confirmed a 34% reduction in infarct size (8.7% vs. 5.7%; P=0.04) and the presence of vascular connections at the flap-myocardium interface. High eGFP expression was detected at the infarct core both at the gene and protein level (negligible signal was detected at the flap on sacrifice). At the functional level, changes in LV ejection fraction and volumes (end-systolic and end-diastolic) were not significantly different between groups (all P values>0.1).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data support the use of post-infarction scar coverage with a pericardial-derived fat flap to reduce infarct size, due partly to neovascular connections and cell trafficking at the flap-myocardium interface. Further studies are needed to validate the functional and clinical relevance of this intervention.