Differential gene expression and immunolocalization of insulin-like growth factors and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins between experimental nonunions and standard healing fractures

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Insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I/II) are important growth factors in bone, and their actions are regulated by six IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs). However, little is known about their exact functions in fracture healing. The aim of this study was to compare the gene expression and immunolocalization of IGFs and IGFBPs between standard healing fractures and nonunions using rat experimental models. Standard healing fractures and nonunions produced by periosteal cauterization at the fracture site were created in rat femurs. At postfracture days 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28, total RNA was extracted from the callus of the healing fractures and the fibrous tissue of the nonunions, and gene expression were analyzed by real-time PCR. Additionally, immunolocalization of these proteins was studied by immunohistochemistry at postfracture days 7, 14, and 21. In nonunions, the gene expression of IGF-I/II and IGFBP-6 was significantly higher, and that of IGFBP-5 was significantly lower at several time points. The immunolocalization of IGF-I/II and IGFBP-5 was widely distributed in both models. In contrast, that of IGFBP-6 was barely detected in the fracture callus. In conclusion, our results suggest that IGFs/IGFBPs may have important roles not only in fracture healing but also in nonunion formation. © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 29:1820–1826, 2011

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