Extracorporeal shock wave (ESW) is a noninvasive acoustic wave, which has recently been demonstrated to promote bone repair. The actual healing mechanism triggered by ESW has not yet been identified. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) have been implicated as playing an important role in bone development and fracture healing. In this study, we aimed to examine the involvement of BMP-2, BMP-3, BMP-4, and BMP-7 expression in ESW promotion of fracture healing. Rats with a 5-mm segmental femoral defect were given ESW treatment using 500 impulses at 0.16 mJ/mm 2 . Femurs and calluses were subjected to immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR assay 1, 2, 4, and 8 weeks after treatment. Histological observation demonstrated that fractured femurs received ESW treatment underwent intensive mesenchymal cell aggregation, hypertrophic chondrogenesis, and endochondral/intramembrane ossification, resulting in the healing of segmental defect. Aggregated mesenchymal cells at the defect, chondrocytes at the hypertrophic cartilage, and osteoblasts adjunct to newly formed woven bone showed intensive proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression. ESW treatment significantly promoted BMP-2, BMP-3, BMP-4, and BMP-7 mRNA expression of callus as determined by RT-PCR, and BMP immunoreactivity appeared throughout the bone regeneration period. Mesenchymal cells and immature chondrocytes showed intensive BMP-2, BMP-3, and BMP-4 immunoreactivity. BMP-7 expression was evident on osteoblasts located at endochondral ossification junction. Our findings suggest that BMP play an important role in signaling ESW-activated cell proliferation and bone regeneration of segmental defect.
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