Distraction osteogenesis has become a mainstay in bone engineering and the recent application of this technique to the membranous craniofacial skeleton has significantly improved our armamentarium for reconstructive craniomaxillofacial procedures. However, if the biomechanical, histological and ultrastructural changes associated with distraction osteogenesis have been widely described, the molecular mechanisms governing the formation of new bone in the interfragmental gap of gradually distracted bone segments remain largely unclear. Recently, our laboratory has described a rat mandibular distraction model that provides an excellent environment for deciphering the molecular mechanisms that mediate distraction osteogenesis. In this Article, we present the hypotheses and current research that have furthered our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that govern distraction osteogenesis. Recent studies have implicated a growing number of cytokines that are intimately involved in the regulation of bone synthesis and turnover. The gene regulation of numerous cytokines (Transforming Growth Factor-B, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, Fibroblast Growth Factor-2) during distraction osteogenesis have been best characterized and will be discussed in this text. We believe that novel systems like the rat model will facilitate our understanding of the biomolecular mechanisms that mediate membranous distraction osteogenesis and will ultimately guide the development of targeted-strategies designed to accelerate bone healing.
View details for PubMedID 15041867