Introduction: Approximately 10-15% of all fractures of long bones heal with delay, prolonged immobilization and repetitive operative interventions. Despite intense investigations, the pathomechanism of impaired healing of skeletal tissue remains unclear. An important role in the pathomechanism of mal-union of close fractures plays subclinically proceeding infections.
Aim: The question arises whether colonization and proliferation of bacteria in the fracture gap could be related to the mutation of genes for factors regulating local antimicrobial response, such as pathogen recognizing receptors (PRR), cytokines and chemokines.
Methods: We carried out studies in patients with delayed long bone fractures estimating the frequency of mutation of genes crucial for pathogen recognition (TLR2, TLR4 and CD14), and elimination (CRP, IL-6, IL-1ra), as well as wound healing (TGF-β). The molecular milieu regulating healing process (IGF-1, COLL1a, TGF-β, BMP-2, and PDGF) was validated by Western blot analysis of the gap tissue.
Results: Microbiological investigations showed the presence of viable bacterial strains in 34 out of 108 gaps in patients with non-healing fractures (31.5%) and in 20 out of 122 patients with uneventful healing (16.4%) (P < 0.05). The occurrence of mutated TLR4 1/W but not 2/W gene was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the non-healing infected than sterile group. In the non-healing infected group 1/W mutated gene frequency was also higher than in healing infected. In the TGF-β codon 10 a significantly higher frequency of mutated homozygote T and heterozygote C/T in the non-healing infected versus non-healing sterile subgroup was observed (P < 0.05). Similar difference was observed in the non-healing infected versus healing infected subgroup (P < 0.05). The CRP (G1059C), IL1ra (genotype 2/2), IL-6 (G176C), CD14 (G-159T), TLR2 (G2259A) and TLR4/2 (Thr399Ile) polymorphisms did not play evident role in the delay of fracture healing.
Conclusions: Individuals bearing the mutant TLR 4 gene 1/W (Asp299Gly) and TGF-β gene codon 10 mutant T and T/C allele may predispose to impaired pathogen recognition and elimination, leading to prolonged pathogen existence in the fracture gaps and healing delays.