Background: Therapeutic augmentation of fracture-site angiogenesis with deferoxamine has proven to increase vascularity, callus size, and mineralization in long-bone fracture models. The authors posit that the addition of deferoxamine would enhance pathologic fracture healing in the setting of radiotherapy in a model where nonunions are the most common outcome.
Methods: Thirty-five Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups. Fracture, irradiated fracture, and irradiated fracture plus deferoxamine. The irradiated fracture and irradiated fracture plus deferoxamine groups received a human equivalent dose of radiotherapy [7 Gy/day for 5 days, (35 Gy)] 2 weeks before mandibular osteotomy and external fixation. The irradiated fracture plus deferoxamine group received injections of deferoxamine into the fracture callus after surgery. After a 40-day healing period, mandibles were dissected, clinically assessed for bony union, imaged with micro-computed tomography, and tension tested to failure.
Results: Compared with irradiated fractures, metrics of callus size, mineralization, and strength in deferoxamine-treated mandibles were significantly increased. These metrics were restored to a level demonstrating no statistical difference from control fractures. In addition, the authors observed an increased rate of achieving bony unions in the irradiated fracture plus deferoxamine-treated group when compared with irradiated fracture (67 percent and 20 percent, respectively).
Conclusions: The authors' data demonstrate nearly total restoration of callus size, mineralization, and biomechanical strength, and a threefold increase in the rate of union with the use of deferoxamine. The authors' results suggest that the administration of deferoxamine may have the potential for clinical translation as a new treatment paradigm for radiation-induced pathologic fractures.