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Fractured Relationships

Insight into signals orchestrating bone healing – potential treatment targets

09 March 2023

Fractured Relationships

Break a bone and a frenzy of activity ensues to repair it. Bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) and their precursors (osteoprogenitors) take charge. However, fractures don’t always heal well. Consequently, growth factors are sometimes given to promote healing, specifically BMP which promotes bone formation and PDGF-BB which maintains osteoprogenitor numbers. Researchers investigate how they work in a mouse bone fracture model. MicroCT of fractured bones (pictured) revealed that adding high dose BMP, low dose BMP or PDGF-BB (top, left to right) promoted bone regeneration compared with no treatment (bottom left) or combining different BMP doses with PDGF-BB (bottom middle and right). Analysing the cell types revealed that BMP2 alone increased osteoblast and osteoprogenitor numbers but failed to do so when combined with PDGF-BB. While separately BMP2 and PDGF-BB promote bone healing, together they have the opposite effect. Further unpicking their interactions may help advance bone healing treatments.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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