Philadelphia — Research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows that a brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) called Substance P appears to amplify the formation of the extraskeletal bone. Eliminating Substance P dramatically decreases the bone growth.
The discovery — in human and animal tissues — offers a molecular target for drugs to potentially prevent and treat the abnormal bone growth, which is called heterotopic ossification.
"This work establishes a common mechanism underlying nearly all forms of heterotopic ossification including that caused by brain and spinal cord injury, peripheral nerve injury, athletic injury, total hip replacement and FOP," said paper co-author Frederick Kaplan, MD, the Isaac & Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopaedic Molecular Medicine at Penn. "These novel findings usher in a new era in understanding of these complex disorders." FOP, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, is a rare genetic disease in which connective tissue turns to bone.
Lead author Lixin Kan, MD, PhD, research associate professor at Feinberg, found that Substance P is dramatically increased in newly damaged tissue of patients who have the more common heterotopic ossification as well as in FOP patients.
In the paper, published in the most recent online edition of The Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, the researchers report that knocking-out Substance P ameliorated the development of the extraskeletal bone in an animal model.
The research was supported by the Center for Research in FOP and Related Disorders at Penn, The International FOP Association, The Isaac and Rose Nassau Professorship of Orthopaedic Molecular Medicine, the National Institutes of Health and other sources. Robert Pignolo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, and Eileen Shore, PhD, research professor of Orthopedics & Genetics, both from Penn, are also co-authors.
For more information, please read the news release.