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J Orthop Res. 2010 Aug;28(8):1000-6. doi: 10.1002/jor.21087.

Rejuvenation of the inflammatory system stimulates fracture repair in aged mice.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic Trauma Institute, University of California at San Francisco, 2550 23rd Street, Bldg. 9, Rm. 345, San Francisco, California 94110, USA.


Age significantly reduces the regenerative capacity of the skeleton, but the underlying causes are unknown. Here, we tested whether the functional status of inflammatory cells contributes to delayed healing in aged animals. We created chimeric mice by bone marrow transplantation after lethal irradiation. In this model, chondrocytes and osteoblasts in the regenerate are derived exclusively from host cells while inflammatory cells are derived from the donor. Using this model, the inflammatory system of middle-aged mice (12 month old) was replaced by transplanted bone marrow from juvenile mice (4 weeks old), or age-matched controls. We found that the middle-aged mice receiving juvenile bone marrow had larger calluses and more bone formation during early stages and faster callus remodeling at late stages of fracture healing, indicating that inflammatory cells derived from the juvenile bone marrow accelerated bone repair in the middle-aged animals. In contrast, transplanting bone marrow from middle-aged mice to juvenile mice did not alter the process of fracture healing in juvenile mice. Thus, the roles of inflammatory cells in fracture healing may be age-related, suggesting the possibility of enhancing fracture healing in aged animals by manipulating the inflammatory system.

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