Bone morphogenetic proteins: an update on basic biology and clinical relevance

J Orthop Res. 1999 Mar;17(2):269-78. doi: 10.1002/jor.1100170217.


The regeneration of bone is a remarkable, complex physiological process, and BMPs are a formidable clinical tool to promote its regeneration. By defining roles played by BMPs in developmental biology and bone regeneration, significant progress has been made to identify cell-signaling molecules and their regulators. For example, the regulators of BMPs that include noggin, chordin, cerberus, dan, and gremlin may be harnessed as therapies to offset calcification encountered after total hip arthroplasties. Furthermore, exploiting BMPs and Smads may generate new therapeutic options for bone repair. Another compelling clinical consideration is the trans-acting factor osteoblast-specific factor-2, which can promote osteoblast differentiation. Moreover, the affiliation of osteoblast-specific factor-2 with heritable disorders merits exploration. A recognized daunting challenge includes a carrier/delivery system for the powerful morphogenetic therapeutic tools, as well as osteoprogenitor cells and intracellular transduction and transcriptional factors. In addition, the long-term effects of administering superphysiological doses of rhBMPs to patients must be assessed systematically. A new generation carrier/delivery system may be the answer to offset dosing liabilities as well as to provide residence for exogenous, BMP-receptive osteoprogenitor cells (111,112). The areas highlighted in this review offer fertile territory for thought and research to develop rational clinical treatments to promote bone regeneration and to understand some of the biological roles of BMPs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / classification
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / physiology*
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Bone Regeneration / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fracture Healing / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Osteoblasts / physiology
  • Osteocalcin / genetics
  • Osteogenesis / physiology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, Growth Factor*
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Osteocalcin
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein Receptors