Objective: To investigate the function of bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2) in the ossification of the spinal ligament (OSL).
Methods: Total RNA was prepared from the cultured spinal ligament cells from patients with OSL and analysed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using specific primers for BMP-2. BMP-2 mRNA expression in ligament tissues was examined by in situ hybridization. Spinal ligament cells from patients without OSL were treated with BMP-2 and examined for alkaline phosphatase activity.
Results: Expression of the BMP-2 gene was detected in cultured spinal ligament cells. In ligament tissues, BMP-2 mRNA was present in the chondrocyte-like cells in the fibrocartilage zone. Exogenous BMP-2 increased alkaline phosphatase activity in spinal ligament cells from patients without OSL.
Conclusion: The BMP-2 gene is expressed in the spinal ligaments of OSL patients, and exogenous BMP-2 stimulates osteogenic differentiation of spinal ligament cells. The expression of BMP-2 in the spinal ligaments could be a clue in elucidating how heterotrophic osteogenesis develops in ligament tissue.