Given the aging population and the increased incidence of fracture in the elderly population, the need exists for agents that can enhance bone healing, particularly in situations of delayed fracture healing and/or non-union. Our previous studies demonstrated that overexpression of the gonadal peptide, human inhibin A (hInhA), in transgenic mice enhances bone formation and strength via increased osteoblast activity. We tested the hypothesis that hInhA can also exert anabolic effects in a murine model of distraction osteogenesis (DO), using both transgenic hInhA overexpression and administration of normal physiological levels of hInhA in adult male Swiss-Webster mice. Tibial osteotomies and external ring fixation were performed, followed by a 3-day latency period, 14-day distraction, and sacrifice on day 18. Supraphysiological levels of hInhA in transgenic mice, but not normal physiological levels of hInhA, significantly increased endosteal bone formation and mineralized bone area in the distraction gap, as determined by radiographic and µCT analysis. Significantly, increased PCNA and osteocalcin expression in the primary matrix front suggested that hInhA increased osteoblast proliferation. This mechanism is consistent with the effects of other agents and pathologies that modulate bone formation during DO, and demonstrates the potential of hInhA to enhance bone repair and regeneration.
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