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Hemiface Allotransplantation in the Mouse

Sucher, Robert M.D.; Lin, Cheng-Hung M.D.; Oberhuber, Rupert M.D.; Kern, Barbara M.D.; Zheng, Xin Xiao M.D.; Zelger, Bettina M.D.; Pratschke, Johann M.D.; Schneeberger, Stefan M.D.; Lee, W. P. Andrew M.D.; Brandacher, Gerald M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: April 2012 - Volume 129 - Issue 4 - p 867–870
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182450aff
Experimental: Ideas and Innovations

Summary: Rat models of experimental face transplantation have been widely used to study vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation. Because the mouse represents a superior species for vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation research, the authors developed a novel surgical technique with which to perform hemiface transplantation in mice. BALB/c hemifacial grafts were transplanted into BALB/c (group 1) or C57BL6 (group 2) recipients (n = 6 per group). Myocutaneous hemiface grafts including a vascular pedicle consisting of the common carotid artery and the external jugular vein were retrieved using superfine microsurgical instruments. The graft was transplanted orthotopically and revascularized using the recipient common carotid artery and external jugular vein for anastomosis applying a non–suture cuff technique. After an initial learning curve, the surgical procedure was performed with a constant and high success rate (78 percent). Operating time was comparable in all groups and lasted 120 ± 15 minutes for the donor and 150 ± 12 minutes for the recipient. All syngeneic grafts survived long term (>100 days). Allograft rejection in group 2 occurred within 14 ± 2 days. Hematoxylin and eosin stains of syngeneic grafts revealed unaltered muscle and skin histology. Allogeneic grafts gradually showed distinct rejection patterns progressing with time and similar to those observed after human face transplantation. This is the first description of a mouse hemiface allotransplantation model. The microsurgically demanding procedure may be used to investigate basic immunology and rejection and to address questions related to nerve regeneration in reconstructive face transplantation.


Innsbruck, Austria; Baltimore, Md.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Taipei, Taiwan

From the Department of Visceral, Transplant, and Thoracic Surgery, D. Swarovski Research Laboratory, and the Department of Pathology, Innsbruck Medical University; the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Pittsburgh; and the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung Medical College and Chang Gung University.

Received for publication July 30, 2011; accepted October 17, 2011.

The first two authors contributed equally to this work.

Disclosure:The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

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Robert Sucher, M.D.; Department of Visceral, Transplant, and Thoracic Surgery, D. Swarovski Research Laboratory, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria,

©2012American Society of Plastic Surgeons