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Bone. 2003 Sep;33(3):362-71.

BMP signaling components are expressed in human fracture callus.

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  • 1Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Of the various growth factors involved in the healing response after a fracture, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are emerging as key modulators. BMPs exert their effects by binding to a complex of type I and type II receptors leading to the phosphorylation of specific downstream effector proteins called Smads. The current study examined the presence of BMP signaling components in human callus obtained from five nascent malunions undergoing fracture fixation. These callus samples represented various stages of bone healing and a mixture of endochondral and intramembraneous bone healing. We performed immunohistochemistry on the callus, using antibodies for BMP (BMP-2,-3,-4,-7), their receptors (BMPR-IA, -IB, -II), and phosphorylated BMP receptor-regulated Smads (pBMP-R-Smads). Active osteoblasts showed fairly consistent positive staining for all BMPs that were examined, with the immunoreactivity most intense for BMP-7 and BMP-3. Immunostaining for BMPs in osteoblasts appeared to colocalize with the expression of BMPR-IA, -IB, and -II. Positive immunostaining for pBMP-R-Smads suggests that the BMP receptors expressed in these cells are activated. Staining for BMPs in cartilage cells was variable. The immunostaining appeared stronger in more mature cells, whereas staining for BMP receptors in cartilage cells was less ubiquitous. However, the expression of pBMP-R-Smads in cartilage cells suggests active signal transduction. Fibroblast-like cells also had a variable staining pattern. Overall, our findings indicate the presence of BMPs, their various receptors, and activated forms of receptor-regulated Smads in human fracture callus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that documents the expression of these proteins in human fracture tissue. Complete elucidation of the roles of BMP in bone formation will hopefully lead to improved fracture healing care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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