BoneKEy Reports | BoneKEy Watch

Simvastatin gel elicits fracture healing


Systemic statins have been shown to encourage the formation of bone and a new blood supply that help heal fractures, but the high doses required can cause significant adverse effects. In this preclinical study, carried out in a rat femoral fracture model, a biodegradable gelatin hydrogel was used to deliver a low dose of simvastatin directly to the fracture site.

The femoral fracture in the animals was performed so that nonunion of the femur persisted 8 weeks later, the time point when simvastatin hydrogel treatment commenced. The results were impressive: 71% of the animals in the treated group showed union of their fracture, as determined by both histology and radiography. This compared with only 7% of animals in the control group, which received the gelatin hydrogel alone.

Fracture healing in the treated rats was accompanied by higher expression of growth factors in periosteal granulation tissue, boosting both osteogenesis and angiogenesis.

Editor's comment: This study is notable, as previously in this severe nonunion model the only successful therapeutic agent had been recombinant bone morphogenic protein. That a small molecule agent such as simvastatin increased angiogenesis and bone formation in this model, leading to union, is significant.

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