Contribution of Implanted, Genetically Modified Muscle Progenitor Cells Expressing BMP-2 to New Bone Formation in a Rat Osseous Defect

Rodolfo E. De La Vega, Consuelo Lopez De Padilla, Miguel Trujillo, Nicholas Quirk, Ryan M. Porter, Christopher H. Evans, Elisabeth Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Because muscle contains osteoprogenitor cells and has a propensity to form bone, we have explored its utility in healing large osseous defects. Healing is achieved by the insertion of muscle fragments transduced with adenovirus encoding BMP-2 (Ad.BMP-2). However, it is not known whether the genetically modified muscle contributes osteoprogenitor cells to healing defects or merely serves as a local source of BMP-2. This question is part of the larger debate on the fate of progenitor cells introduced into sites of tissue damage to promote regeneration. To address this issue, we harvested fragments of muscle from rats constitutively expressing GFP, transduced them with Ad.BMP-2, and implanted them into femoral defects in wild-type rats under various conditions. GFP+ cells persisted within defects for the entire 8 weeks of the experiments. In the absence of bone formation, these cells presented as fibroblasts. When bone was formed, GFP+ cells were present as osteoblasts and osteocytes and also among the lining cells of new blood vessels. The genetically modified muscle thus contributed progenitor cells as well as BMP-2 to the healing defect, a property of great significance in light of the extensive damage to soft tissue and consequent loss of endogenous progenitors in problematic fractures. Muscle grafts transduced to express bone morphogenetic protein-2 heal large bone defects in rats, but the fate of the transplanted muscle cells was previously unknown. This paper demonstrates that transplanted cells persist in the host defects where they differentiate into chondrocytes, osteoblasts, osteocytes, and blood vessel endothelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2018


  • bone healing
  • cell fate
  • immunomodulation
  • muscle
  • osteoprogenitors
  • regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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