Lithium and bone healing

July 30, 2007

Researchers have described a novel molecular pathway that may have a critical role in bone healing and have suggested that lithium, which affects this pathway, has the potential to improve fracture healing. The study, led by Benjamin Alman from the Hospital For Sick Children, Toronto, investigated the role of the â-catenin signaling pathway, which activates T cell factor -dependent gene transcription, and which is known to have a key regulatory role in embryonic skeletal development.

By studying mice with fractures the researchers were able to show that â-catenin-mediated gene transcription was activated in both bone and cartilage formation during fracture repair. In mice that lacked â-catenin fracture healing was inhibited, whereas in mice expressing an activated form of â-catenin bone healing was accelerated. Treating mice with lithium activated â-catenin in the healing fracture, but healing was enhanced only when treatment was given after the fracture occurred, rather than before.

These results show that that â-catenin functions differently at different stages of fracture repair. Although the relevance of this study to human fractures remains to be determined, activation of â-catenin by lithium treatment has the potential to improve fracture healing, but probably only when given in later phases of fracture healing.
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Citation: Chen Y, Whetstone HC, Lin AC, Nadesan P, Wei Q, et al. (2007) Beta-catenin signaling plays a disparate role in different phases of fracture repair: Implications for therapy to improve bone healing. PLoS Med 4(7): e249.

IN YOUR ARTICLE, PLEASE LINK TO THIS URL, WHICH WILL PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE PUBLISHED PAPER:: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040249

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-04-07-alman.pdf

CONTACT:

Chelsea Novak
The Hospital for Sick Children
Communications Specialist - Research Institute Public Affairs
555 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5G 1X8
+1 416 813 5045
+1 416 813 5328 (fax)
chelsea.novak@sickkids.ca

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit http://www.plosmedicine.org

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org

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