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Effects of mechanical stimulation on endochondral ossification
Jasmin Lienau, Dr. med. vet.; Hanna Schell, Dr. med. vet.; Katja Laun, Dr. med. vet.
Georg Duda, Prof. Dr.-Ing.
The musculoskeletal system of vertebrates responds to the mechanical conditions during development, maintenance and repair processes. The understanding of the underlying molecular basis is of medical relevance because the same molecules that regulate embryonic endochondral ossification are also expressed during postnatal bone growth and fracture healing, suggesting that these processes are controlled by similar mechanisms.
Many studies have shown significant influences of mechanical stimulation and ultrasound treatment on the chondro- and osteogenic processes in cell and organ culture systems. Animal and clinical studies have further shown an acceleration of bone healing under application of low-intensity ultrasound and under special mechanical conditions, although the underlying mechanisms are still not well known.
After establishing an in vitro culture system for the developing cartilaginous metatarsal bones of mice foetuses and experimenting with low-intensity ultrasound stimulation, a new technical device was developed allowing a direct mechanical stimulation of the developing bones. Results were determined histomorphometrically and showed that the endochondral ossification process was clearly influenced by repeated bending in vitro.
Beside the general morphological outcome under different mechanical conditions, it is very demanding to look at the changes in the expression patterns of known marker genes and proteins of endochondral ossification to enhance the understanding of the molecular processes involved. The correlation with the results of in vivo animal models of bone healing (mouse, rat, sheep) will further show similarities and differences in the ossification processes under the given mechanical conditions.
The future goal is to find relationships between the morphological and genetic changes of various mechanical stimuli in the process of endochondral ossification. With the knowledge of the underlying molecular events and their mechanical stimuli, we hope to further support and enhance the medical treatment options for fracture healing, bone regeneration and disorders of the skeleton.