Bone has the unique capacity to heal without the formation of a fibrous scar, likely because several of the cellular and molecular processes governing bone healing recapitulate the events during skeletal development. A critical component in bone healing is the timely appearance of blood vessels in the fracture callus. Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, is stimulated after fracture by the local production of numerous angiogenic growth factors. The fracture vasculature not only supplies oxygen and nutrients, but also stem cells able to differentiate into osteoblasts and in a later phase also the ions necessary for mineralization. This review provides a concise report of the regulation of angiogenesis by bone cells, its importance during bone healing and its possible therapeutic applications in bone tissue engineering. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Stem Cells and Bone".
Keywords: Angiogenesis; Bone healing; Fracture; Hypoxia; Tissue engineering; VEGF.
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