The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of exercise on angiogenesis during bone defect healing in mice. We evaluated angiogenesis during cranial bone defect healing by intravital fluorescence microscopy (IVM) at days 0-21. To characterize the type of bone repair, we performed additional histomorphometric analyses at days 3-15. IVM was conducted in mice, which were housed in cages supplied with running wheels (exercise group; n=7) and compared to IVM results of mice, which were housed in cages without running wheels (controls; n=7). In the exercise group, we additionally performed correlation analyses between results of the IVM and the running distance. IVM showed an accelerated decrease of bone defect area in the exercise group compared to the control group. This was associated with a significantly higher blood vessel diameter in animals undergoing exercise at days 9 and 12 and a significant correlation between running distance and blood vessel density at day 9 (r = 0.74). Histomorphometry showed osseous bridging of the defect at day 9. The newly woven bone was covered by a neo-periosteum containing those blood vessels, which were visible by IVM. We conclude that exercise accelerates bone defect healing and stimulates angiogenesis during bore repair.
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