Fracture healing requires controlled expression of thousands of genes. Only a small fraction of these genes have been isolated and fewer yet have been shown to play a direct role in fracture healing. The purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to develop a reproducible open femur model of fracture healing that produces consistent fracture calluses for subsequent RNA extraction, (2) to use this model to determine temporal expression patterns of known and unknown genes using DNA microarray expression profiling, and (3) to identify and validate novel gene expression in fracture healing. In the initial arm of the study, a total of 56 wild-type C57BL/6 mice were used. An open, stabilized diaphyseal femur fracture was created. Animals were killed at 1, 5, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 35 days after surgery and the femurs were harvested for analysis. At each time point, fractures were radiographed and sectioned for histologic analyses. Tissue from fracture callus at all stages following fracture yielded reproducibly large amounts of mRNA. Expression profiling revealed that genes cluster by function in a manner similar to the histologic stages of fracture healing. Based on the expression profiling of fracture tissue, temporal expression patterns of several genes known to be involved in fracture healing were verified. Novel expression of multiple genes in fracture callous tissue was also revealed including leptin and leptin receptor. In order to test whether leptin signaling is required for fracture repair, mice deficient in leptin or its receptor were fractured using the same model. Fracture calluses of mice deficient in both leptin or leptin receptor are larger than wild-type mice fractures, likely due to a delay in mineralization, revealing a previously unrecognized role of leptin signaling in fracture healing. This novel model of murine fracture repair is useful in examining both global changes in gene expression as well as individual signaling pathways, which can be used to identify specific molecular mechanisms of fracture healing.
About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.