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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Fibroblasts of spinal ligaments pathologically differentiate into chondrocytes induced by recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2: morphological examinations for ossification of spinal ligaments.

To elucidate the process of ossification in spinal ligaments, an aqueous solution containing recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-2 (40 micrograms/100 microL) was injected into murine ligamenta flava, and the ossification process was analyzed morphologically. In the control group, the solution administered lacked the protein; these flattened ligamentous fibroblasts possessing BMP receptors type IA and type II existed among type I collagen bundles. In the week immediately following the injection of BMP-2, ligamentous fibroblasts began to proliferate, differentiating into alkaline phosphatase-positive chondrocytes surrounded by an extracellular matrix composed of type I and II collagen. By the second week, differentiated chondrocytes of various stages were observed in type II collagen-rich matrix. These chondrocytes showed an abundance of BMP receptors type IA and II. The pathologically induced cartilage was resorbed by chondroclasts, permitting migration of blood vessels and osteogenic cells, as well as providing a site for endochondral ossification. By the third week, BMP-induced ossification had compressed the spinal cord, and by the sixth week, the ligamentous tissue had been almost completely replaced by bone. Ligamentous fibroblasts appeared to possess BMP receptors, as well as the potentiality to differentiate into chondrocytes. BMP receptors were upregulated during chondrification of ligamentous fibroblasts induced by exogenous BMP-2, suggesting that BMPs may play an important role in ossification of spinal ligaments.[1]


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