Background: The discovery of microRNA (miRNA) has revealed a novel type of regulatory control for gene expression. Increasing evidence suggests that miRNA regulates chondrocyte, osteoblast, and osteoclast differentiation and function, indicating miRNA as key regulators of bone formation, resorption, remodeling, and repair. We hypothesized that the functions of certain miRNAs and changes to their expression pattern may play crucial roles during the process of fracture healing. Methods: Standard healing fractures and unhealing fractures produced by periosteal cauterization at the fracture site were created in femurs of seventy rats, with half assigned to the standard healing fracture group and half assigned to the nonunion group. At post-fracture days 3, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28, total RNA including miRNA was extracted from the newly generated tissue at the fracture site. Microarray analysis was performed with miRNA samples from each group on post-fracture day 14. For further analysis, we selected highly up-regulated five miRNAs in the standard healing fracture group from the microarray data. Real-time PCR was performed with miRNA samples at each time point above mentioned to compare the expression levels of the selected miRNAs between standard healing fractures and unhealing fractures and investigate their time-course changes. Results: Microarray and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses on day 14 revealed that five miRNAs, miR-140-3p, miR-140-5p, miR-181a-5p, miR-181d-5p, and miR-451a, were significantly highly expressed in standard healing fractures compared with unhealing fractures. Real-time PCR analysis further revealed that in standard healing fractures, the expression of all five of these miRNAs peaked on day 14 and declined thereafter. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the five miRNAs identified using microarray and real-time PCR analyses may play important roles during fracture healing. These findings provide valuable information to further understand the molecular mechanism of fracture healing and may lead to the development of miRNA-based tissue engineering strategies to promote fracture healing.
Waki, T., Lee, S. Y., Niikura, T., Iwakura, T., Dogaki, Y., Okumachi, E., … Kurosaka, M. (2016). Profiling microRNA expression during fracture healing. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-016-0931-0