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Researchers detail how aging undermines bone healing
Date:1/15/2009

the cell populations responsible for the supply of COX-2 to the fracture callus, the layer of pre-cartilage cells (cartilage progenitors) that form first around a fracture to guide bone building, had not. The team also confirmed for the first time that healing ability lost with age can be rescued by manipulating the COX-2 pathway with existing, experimental drugs. The study was in mice, but is especially relevant to human medicine because of the similarity between human and mouse COX-2 gene, and because the study mice were engineered by the National Institute on Aging, and have inspired several major insights into aging that have been validated in humans.

"The skeleton loses the ability to repair itself as we age," said Regis J. O'Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and corresponding author of the article. "Our results position the COX-2 pathway as one of several under exploration with the common goal of accelerating healing in aging humans, and with the potential to come together in future combination therapies."

Turning Back the Clock

In the current study, healing rates were compared between a group of young mice (7-9 weeks old) and a group of old mice (52-56 weeks of age), with healing evaluated by imaging and gene expression studies. Specifically, the current study found that the older mice experienced delayed fracture healing, decreased bone formation and decreased resupply of blood vessels to the healing site in aging mice. Expression of the gene that codes for production of the COX-2 was reduced by 75 percent in fractures between aged mice and young mice during the early healing phase five days after a fracture. COX-2 expression in young mice peaked at the exact time that stem cells were changing into cartilage within the fracture callus of young mice, and was reduced during that period in older mice.

In addition, experiments confirmed that COX-2 is
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-267-7557
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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