Quantitative assessment of cranial defect healing and correlation with the expression of TGF-β
Transforming Growth Factor beta
Circular parietal defects from 3 to 12 mm in diameter were made in 45 6-month old skeletally mature guinea pigs, and animals were sacrificed after survival periods of 3 days to 12 weeks. The original defect was harvested in continuity with a rim of surrounding bone and the adjacent dura and pericranium. After 12 weeks, all 3 and 5 mm defects were completely covered by a bridge of bone, while residual defects were noted within the 8 and 12 mm wounds. Percentage of new bone formation was significantly higher within 3 mm defects, than in all larger defects at each time interval from 1 week on (P < .05), reaching a mean of 93% in 3 mm defects and remaining below a mean of 31% in the remaining defect sizes. Immunolocalization demonstrated an osteogenic front in which the osteoblasts stained strongly for all isoforms of TGF-beta, with the intensity decreasing after the majority of the defects had reossified; this front was located at the advancing bone edge of the defect as well as the endocranial side adjacent to the dura. In conclusion, isoforms of TGF-beta are upregulated during a limited "window" of time corresponding to the period of calvarial reossification, and are localized to osteoblasts within an osteogenic front at the periphery and dural surfaces of the defects.