Bone morphogenetic protein signaling in the murine distraction osteogenesis model

Published online: Feb 27 2009

Johan Lammens, Zhendong Liu, Frank Luyten

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, UZ Pellenberg, the Laboratory for Skeletal Development and Joint Disorders, UZ Gasthuisberg, and Prometheus, Division of Skeletal Tissue Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium


A murine distraction osteogenesis model was standardized to allow analysis of the molecular pathways associated with postnatal de novo bone formation. The authors examined the presence and expression of Bone Morphogenetic Proteins (BMPs) -2,-3,-4,-6 and -7, and the BMP receptors Alk3 and Alk6 at different stages. Strong signals were detected for BMP-4 at the end of the distraction period and for BMP-6 during the entire experimental period. Signals for BMP-7 (Osteogenic Protein-1) were very low, suggesting a less important role during the normal process of distraction bone healing. Immunohistochemical staining revealed the presence of BMP-4 in the early chondroblasts, while BMP-6 was detected in the more mature cartilage cells. The data indicate a BMP molecular profile reminiscent of the embryonic maturation process in endochondral bone formation.