Human BMP-2 gene transfer using transcutaneous in vivo electroporation induced both intramembranous and endochondral ossification



It has been generally accepted that bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) can induce osteogenesis in skeletal muscles via endochondral ossification. However, it is not clear how the ossification process occurs after the BMP-2 gene transfer to skeletal muscles in rats using in vivo electroporation. In this study, we evaluated the ossification process by BMP-2 gene transfer using in vivo electroporation. The gastrocnemius muscles of Wistar rats were injected with human BMP-2 gene expression vector (pCAGGS-BMP-2), followed by electroporation under the condition of 100 V, 50 msec per 1 sec, × 8. Light and electron microscopic and radiographic analyses were performed at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 days after treatment. At 7 days, no sign of cartilage and/or bone formation was detected. However, at 10 days after in vivo electroporation, soft X-ray analysis revealed small lucent areas around the plasmid-injected region. Clusters of both cartilage tissues, leading to endochondral ossification and intramembranous bones of various sizes, were observed between muscle fibers. RT-PCR detected osteocalcin mRNA, showing bone formation at 10 days. Our findings strongly suggest that BMP-2 gene transfer using in vivo electroporation induces not only endochondral ossification but also intramembranous ossification. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.