IL-1Ra gene transfer potentiates BMP2-mediated bone healing by redirecting osteogenesis toward endochondral ossification

Joseph A. Panos, Michael J. Coenen, Christopher V. Nagelli, Erin B. McGlinch, Aysegul Atasoy-Zeybek, Consuelo Lopez De Padilla, Ryan F. Coghlan, Brian Johnstone, Elisabeth Ferreira, Ryan M. Porter, Rodolfo E. De la Vega, Christopher H. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An estimated 100,000 patients each year in the United States suffer severe disability from bone defects that fail to heal, a condition where bone-regenerative therapies could provide substantial clinical benefits. Although recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 (rhBMP2) is an osteogenic growth factor that is clinically approved for this purpose, it is only effective when used at exceedingly high doses that incur substantial costs, induce severe inflammation, produce adverse side effects, and form morphologically abnormal bone. Using a validated rat femoral segmental defect model, we show that bone formed in response to clinically relevant doses of rhBMP2 is accompanied by elevated expression of interleukin-1 (IL-1). Local delivery of cDNA encoding the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) achieved bridging of segmental, critical size defects in bone with a 90% lower dose of rhBMP2. Unlike use of high-dose rhBMP2, bone formation in the presence of IL-1Ra occurred via the native process of endochondral ossification, resulting in improved quality without sacrificing the mechanical properties of the regenerated bone. Our results demonstrate that local immunomodulation may permit effective use of growth factors at lower doses to recapitulate more precisely the native biology of healing, leading to higher-quality tissue regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-434
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • bone regeneration
  • endochondral ossification
  • gene transfer
  • interleukin-1 receptor antagonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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