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Medical research: A quick fix for broken bones

Nature Communications

December 19, 2012

A protein that speeds up the repair of bone fractures in mice is reported in Nature Communications this week. The work describes that the protein DJ-1 is secreted by bone precursor cells and enhances bone regeneration by stimulating the formation of new bone cells and new blood vessels.

Bone regeneration is a complex process that involves many types of cells, including osteoblasts (bone cells) and endothelial cells. Pann-Ghil Suh and his team show that the protein DJ-1 is secreted from so-called mesenchymal stem cells as they differentiate into osteoblasts, which promotes bone formation. DJ-1 also stimulates endothelial cells to form new blood vessels. They demonstrate that, in mice, application of DJ-1 to a fracture increases bone regeneration and the formation of new blood vessels at the fracture site, thereby reducing the time it takes for a fracture to heal.

The study improves our understanding of the communication between different types of cells involved in bone regeneration and, if applicable to humans, suggests that DJ-1 may have therapeutic potential for the repair of fractures.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2313

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