Background and purpose: The remodeling of morselized bone grafts in revision surgery can be enhanced by an anabolic substance such as a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). On the other hand, BMPs boost catabolism and might cause a premature resorption, both of the graft and of the new-formed bone. Bisphosphonates inactivate osteoclasts and can be used to control the resorption. We studied a combination of both drugs as a local admix to a cancellous allograft.
Methods: Cancellous bone allografts were harvested and freeze-dried. Either saline, BMP-7, the bisphosphonate zoledronate, or a combination of BMP-7 and zoledronate were added in solution. The grafts were placed in bone conduction chambers and implanted in the proximal tibia of 34 rats. The grafts were harvested after 6 weeks and evaluated by histomorphometry.
Results: Bone volume/total volume (BV/TV) was 50% in the grafts treated with the combination of BMP-7 and zoledronate and 16% in the saline controls (p < 0.001). In the zoledronate group BV/TV was 56%, and in the BMP group it was 14%. The ingrowth distance of new bone into the graft was 3.5 mm for the combination of BMP-7 and zoledronate and 2.6 mm in the saline control (p = 0.002). The net amount of retained remodeled bone was more than 4 times higher when BMP-7 and zoledronate were combined than in the controls.
Interpretation: An anabolic drug like BMP-7 can be combined with an anti-catabolic bisphosphonate as local bone graft adjunct, and the combination increases the amount of remaining bone after remodeling is complete.