We tested the hypothesis that mechanical loading of human bone increases expression of the transcription factor RUNX2 and bone matrix proteins osteopontin (OPN), bone sialoprotein (BSP), dentin matrix protein-1 (DMPI), and matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein (MEPE). We examined this in tissue sections of atrophic mandibular bone taken from edentulous patients who had undergone distraction osteogenesis. In undistracted bone, weak to moderate staining for OPN and BSP was found in osteoblasts and bone matrix of immature woven bone. RUNX2 was also detectable in osteoblasts and in cells of the periosteum. In woven bone, but not in lamellar bone, a small number of osteocytes stained for all proteins tested. After distraction, staining intensity had increased in the existing old bone and staining was seen in more bone cells than before distraction. We also found a high expression of DMP1 and MEPE in many osteocytes embedded in woven bone and in some osteocytes of lamellar bone not seen before distraction. New bone trabeculae were forming in the fibrous tissue of the distraction gap containing all stages of intramembranous bone formation. Moderate to strong staining was seen for all five proteins tested in osteocytes located in woven bone of these trabeculae and for RUNX2, OPN, and BSP in osteoblasts lining the trabecular surfaces. We conclude that loading of atrophic human jawbone by distraction activates matrix synthesis of bone cells in and around existing bone. Increased staining of DMP1 and MEPE in osteocytes after loading is in line with the concept that these proteins may be involved in signaling the effector cells to adapt the bone structure to its mechanical demands.
- Alveolar mandible
- Bone sialoprotein
- Dentin matrix protein
- Distraction osteogenesis
- Matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein