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Ann Plast Surg. 2007 Sep;59(3):329-33.

Leptin increases extracellular matrix mineralization of human osteoblasts from heterotopic ossification and normal bone.

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  • 1Division of Plastic, Hand and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the pathologic formation of bone in soft tissue. The exact pathomechanism is unknown but probably involves a disturbed osteoblast differentiation. Leptin, known as the obesity gene, may regulate normal osteoblast function in vitro. The aim of the present in vitro study was to further analyze the pathomechanisms of HO, including a possible role of leptin in ectopic bone formation. Human osteoblasts were cultivated either from normal bone or from resected HO. Both groups were incubated with increasing doses of leptin. Phenotype expression and mineralization of extracellular matrix were measured after 7, 14, and 21 days. In both groups, leptin increased both the formation of bone nodules and Ca-45 incorporation. This is the first study to analyze the effect of leptin on bone cells from ectopic ossification. Similar to the in vitro behavior of normal osteoblasts, cells from HO respond to leptin exposure with an increased mineralization of the extracellular matrix. This mechanism may be involved in the pathogenesis of ectopic bone formation in vivo.

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