Transforming growth factor-beta isoforms and the induction of bone formation: implications for reconstructive craniofacial surgery

J Craniofac Surg. 2009 Sep;20(5):1544-55. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3181b09ca6.


Craniofacial skeletal reconstruction remains a challenging problem despite major molecular and surgical developments in the understanding of bone formation by induction. The induction of bone formation has been a critical topic of research across the planet. The bone induction principle identified important cues for tissue engineering of bone, namely, osteogenic soluble molecular signals, the bone morphogenetic and osteogenic proteins, and insoluble signals or substrata including biomimetic bioactive matrices and responding stem cells. In primates, and in primates only, the osteogenic soluble molecular signals that initiate the induction of bone formation additionally include the 3 mammalian transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) isoforms, members of the TGF-beta supergene family. The mammalian TGF-beta isoforms, when implanted in the rectus abdominis muscle of the nonhuman primate Papio ursinus, induce rapid and substantial endochondral bone formation resulting in large corticalized ossicles by day 30 after heterotopic implantation; in calvarial defects of the same nonhuman primates, identical or higher doses of the TGF-beta protein do not induce bone formation because of the overexpression of Smad-6 and Smad-7, gene product inhibitors of the TGF-beta signaling pathway. The addition of minced fragments of autogenous rectus abdominis muscle partially restores the osteoinductive activity of the human TGF-beta3 isoform resulting in the induction of bone formation in the treated calvarial defects. Recombinant human TGF-beta3 delivered by Matrigel matrix and implanted in class II and III furcation defects of mandibular molars of P. ursinus induce periodontal tissue regeneration. The addition of minced fragments of autogenous rectus abdominis muscle significantly enhances cementogenesis. This review highlights the induction of bone formation by the osteogenic proteins of the TGF-beta superfamily in the nonhuman primate P. ursinus and reviews combinatorial applications of myoblastic/myogenic stem cell-based therapeutics for bone induction and morphogenesis. The recruitment of myoendothelial cells is also discussed in the light of the intrinsic and spontaneous induction of bone formation by smart biomaterial matrices that induce bone differentiation in heterotopic extraskeletal sites of P. ursinus without the exogenous application of the osteogenic soluble molecular signals of the TGF-beta superfamily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / therapeutic use
  • Bone Matrix / physiology
  • Facial Bones / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Muscle Development / physiology
  • Myoblasts / physiology
  • Ossification, Heterotopic / physiopathology
  • Osteogenesis / physiology*
  • Papio ursinus
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Protein Isoforms / therapeutic use
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Rectus Abdominis / physiology
  • Skull / surgery*
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / therapeutic use


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta