Revealing muscles' vital role in bone healing after fracture
Whenever you fracture a bone, progenitor cells in your damaged bone jump into action, forming a callus – a mass of fibroblasts and cartilage-producing cells called chondrocytes. New cartilage and bone is then laid down. Researchers now reveal that progenitor cells in the surrounding skeletal muscle are also involved. Mice were genetically modified to track these progenitor cells using fluorescence microscopy, focusing on the muscle surrounding the tibia bone (pictured) before fracture of the bone (left, blue), and then 3 days (middle) and 3 weeks after fracture (right). Combined with RNA analysis, the team found some progenitors matured into fibroblasts and later others matured into chondrocytes, forming a callous (right, blue). However, in mice where the bone and muscle were injured, these progenitors interfered with bone healing by producing excess fibrous tissue – administering the drug imatinib prevented this. Skeletal muscle therefore has a vital role in the effectiveness of bone healing.
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