Free Radical Scavengers Are More Effective Than Indomethacin in the Prevention of Experimentally Induced Heterotopic Ossification

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Abstract

The pathogenesis of heterotopic ossification is still unclear and the preventive therapies are usually insufficient. The present study was designed to investigate the possible preventive effect of free radical scavengers on the development of experimentally induced heterotopic ossification in a rabbit model and to compare free radical scavengers with indomethacin to determine whether they act synergistically. A standard immobilization-manipulation model was used to induce heterotopical ossification in the hind legs of 40 1-year-old female New Zealand albino rabbits. The animals were divided into four groups and received daily either placebo, a free radical scavenger cocktail [allopurinol and N-acetylcysteine (A/A)], indomethacin or the combination of A/A and indomethacin in a randomized double-blind fashion. Every 4 days an X-ray was taken and the thickness and length of new bone formation was measured at the thigh. A marked statistically significant difference was found between the four groups. In the groups that received A/A, either alone or combined with indomethacin, an inhibition of bone growth, both in thickness and in length was demonstrated. In this experimental model free radical scavengers had a superior inhibitory effect on heterotopic ossification than indomethacin. Free radicals could play an important role in the pathogenesis of heterotopic ossification. © 2006 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 25:267–272, 2007

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