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Transcriptional responses in the adaptation to ischaemia-reperfusion injury: a study of the effect of ischaemic preconditioning in total knee arthroplasty patients

Terence Murphy12, Pauline M Walsh1, Peter P Doran1 and Kevin J Mulhall12*

  • * Corresponding author: Kevin J Mulhall

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 UCD Clinical Research Centre, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Mater University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

2 Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2010, 8:46  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-8-46

Published: 10 May 2010



Ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) has emerged as a method of reducing ischaemia-reperfusion injury. However, the complex mechanism through which IPC elicits this protection is not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the genomic response induced by IPC in muscle biopsies taken from the operative leg of total knee arthroplasty patients in order to gain insight into the IPC mechanism.


Twenty patients, undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty, were randomly assigned to IPC (n = 10) and control (n = 10) groups. Patients in the IPC group received ischaemic preconditioning immediately prior to surgery. IPC was induced by three five-minute cycles of tourniquet insufflation interrupted by five-minute cycles of reperfusion. A muscle biopsy was taken from the operative knee of control and IPC-treated patients at the onset of surgery and, again, at one hour into surgery. The gene expression profile of muscle biopsies was determined using the Affymetrix Human U113 2.0 microarray system and validated using real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Measurements of C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation (ESR), white cell count (WCC), cytokines and haemoglobin were also made pre- and post-operatively.


Microarray analysis revealed a significant increase in the expression of important oxidative stress defence genes, immediate early response genes and mitochondrial genes. Upregulation of pro-survival genes was also observed and correlated with a downregulation of pro-apoptotic gene expression. CRP, ESR, WCC, cytokine and haemoglobin levels were not significantly different between control and IPC patients.


The findings of this study suggest that IPC of the lower limb in total knee arthroplasty patients induces a protective genomic response, which results in increased expression of immediate early response genes, oxidative stress defence genes and pro-survival genes. These findings indicate that ischaemic preconditioning may be of potential benefit in knee arthroplasty and other musculoskeletal conditions.