Distraction osteogenesis (DO) is a mechanotransduction process capable of generating viable osseous tissue by the gradual separation of osteotomized bone edges. Several variables are implicated in DO: magnitude of mechanical strain, distraction rate, and type of distracted bone. The combination of these factors acts on different types of cells inducing apoptosis, cell proliferation, and differentiation. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms has important clinical implications because it may facilitate the use of recombinant proteins or gene therapy to accelerate bone regeneration. Previous reports have analyzed several molecules such as extracellular matrix proteins, cytokines, bone morphogenetic proteins, hormones, and angiogenic factors. Moreover, a single protein can have multifunctional roles. With such a huge number of mechanical, histologic, cellular, and molecular variables, there is the need to have a cell culture model that enables the selection of the effect of a specific strength to a single cell type at different time points and with or without cytokines. The analysis of the genetic profiling of a cell line cultured on an equibiaxial stretch device has such characteristic. Because there is a recruitment and commitment of preosteoblastic cells during bone lengthening and no previous report has focus on them, the authors used a preosteoblast MC3T3-E1 cell line to detect the early molecular effects of distraction on mesenchymal cells. By using DNA microarrays containing 15,000 clones, the authors identified several genes the expression of which was significantly up- or down-regulated. The differentially expressed genes cover a broad range of biological processes: cell growth, metabolism, morphogenesis, cell communication, response to stress, and cell death. The data reported are the first genetic portrait of stretched preosteoblasts. They can be relevant in the better understanding of the molecular mechanism of DO and as a model for comparing the effect of distraction on different cell lines and primary cultures, rate and strength of distraction, and with or without cytokines.
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