Heterotopic ossification (HO, also termed myositis ossificans) is the formation of extra-skeletal bone in muscle and soft tissues. HO is a tissue repair process gone awry, and is a common complication of surgery and traumatic injury. Medical strategies to prevent and treat HO fall well short of addressing the clinical need. Better characterization of the tissues supporting HO is critical to identifying therapies directed against this common and sometimes devastating condition. The physiologic processes of osteogenesis and angiogenesis are highly coupled and interdependent. However, few efforts have been made to document the vascular patterning within heterotopic ossification. Here, surgical pathology case files of 29 human HO specimens were examined by vascular histomorphometric analysis. Results demonstrate a temporospatial patterning of HO vascularity that depends on the "maturity" of the bony lesion. In sum, human HO demonstrates a time- and space-dependent pattern of vascularization suggesting a coupled pathophysiologic process involving the coordinate processes of osteogenesis and angiogenesis. Further imaging studies may be used to further characterize vasculogenesis within HO and whether anti-angiogenic therapies are a conceivable future therapy for this common condition.
Keywords: Angiogenesis; Ectopic bone; Heterotopic bone; Osteogenesis; Vasculogenesis.
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