Rat mandibular distraction osteogenesis: Part I. Histologic and radiographic analysis
The application of distraction osteogenesis to craniofacial surgery has altered the approach and treatment of congenital and acquired craniofacial defects. Although the histologic and ultrastructural changes associated with distraction osteogenesis have been described extensively, relatively little is known about the molecular regulation of this process. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of distraction osteogenesis has important clinical implications because it may facilitate the use of recombinant proteins or gene therapy to accelerate bone regeneration. Molecular analysis of distraction osteogenesis has been hindered by the use of large animal models in which only limited genetic information is available. In this study, a rat model of mandibular distraction osteogenesis is described. This report includes a pilot study (n = 50) to develop an appropriate distraction device and to determine the optimal placement of the osteotomy. The study subsequently included 80 animals, 35 of which were distracted at a rate of 0.25 mm per day for 6 days (1.5 mm total) and 35 that were distracted at a rate of 0.25 mm twice per day (3.0 mm total). These animals were killed at various time points (after latency and during the distraction and consolidation periods) and displayed histologic and radiographic findings of membranous bone distraction osteogenesis that were consistent with those in large ,animal and clinical models. In addition, five animals each were acutely lengthened 1.5 mm and 3.0 mm and demonstrated a fibrous nonunion. Furthermore, the utility of this model is demonstrated in the analysis of the molecular mechanisms of distraction osteogenesis by applying the polymerase chain reaction to total cellular RNA isolated from normal and distracted rat mandibles. In conclusion, it is believed that the rat model of distraction osteogenesis has significant advantages over traditional models, including decreased costs and facilitation of molecular analysis.