Expression of connective tissue growth factor/hypertrophic chondrocyte-specific gene product 24 (CTGF/Hcs24/CCN2) during distraction osteogenesis

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To investigate the localization and expression of connective tissue growth factor/hypertrophic chondrocyte-specific gene product 24/CCN family member 2 (CTGF/Hcs24/CCN2) during distraction osteogenesis in the rat femur, we studied a total of 54 male rats (11 weeks old). We performed osteotomy in the midshaft of the right femur. After 7 days (lag phase), distraction was started, at the rate of 0.25 mm/12 h for 21 days (distraction phase) by using a small external fixator, and this was followed by a 7-day consolidation phase. Localization and expression of CTGF/Hcs24 during distraction osteogenesis in the femur were examined by immunostaining, in situ hybridization, and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Immunostaining showed the localization of CTGF/Hcs24 in various cells located in the bone-forming area around the osteotomy site. During the distraction phase, in situ hybridization showed that CTGF/Hcs24 mRNA was expressed not only in hypertrophic chondrocytes and osteoblasts but also in fibroblast-like cells and mesenchymal cells at sites of end-ochondral ossification, and not only in osteoblasts but also in pre-osteoblasts and fibroblast-like cells at sites of intramembranous ossification. RT-PCR showed higher level expression of CTGF/Hcs24 mRNA in the distracted group than in the nondistracted group. These results revealed an elevated pattern of CTGF/Hcs24 mRNA expression during distraction osteogenesis, and suggest that CTGF/Hcs24 may play some roles in the endochondral and intramembranous ossification processes that occur during distraction osteogenesis.

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