VEGFA From Early Osteoblast Lineage Cells (Osterix+) Is Required in Mice for Fracture Healing

J Bone Miner Res. 2019 Sep;34(9):1690-1706. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3755. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Bone formation via intramembranous and endochondral ossification is necessary for successful healing after a wide range of bone injuries. The pleiotropic cytokine, vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) has been shown, via nonspecific pharmacologic inhibition, to be indispensable for angiogenesis and ossification following bone fracture and cortical defect repair. However, the importance of VEGFA expression by different cell types during bone healing is not well understood. We sought to determine the role of VEGFA from different osteoblast cell subsets following clinically relevant models of bone fracture and cortical defect. Ubiquitin C (UBC), Osterix (Osx), or Dentin matrix protein 1 (Dmp1) Cre-ERT2 mice (male and female) containing floxed VEGFA alleles (VEGFAfl/fl ) were either given a femur full fracture, ulna stress fracture, or tibia cortical defect at 12 weeks of age. All mice received tamoxifen continuously starting 2 weeks before bone injury and throughout healing. UBC Cre-ERT2 VEGFAfl/fl (UBC cKO) mice, which were used to mimic nonspecific inhibition, had minimal bone formation and impaired angiogenesis across all bone injury models. UBC cKO mice also exhibited impaired periosteal cell proliferation during full fracture, but not stress fracture repair. Osx Cre-ERT2 VEGFAfl/fl (Osx cKO) mice, but not Dmp1 Cre-ERT2 VEGFAfl/fl (Dmp1 cKO) mice, showed impaired periosteal bone formation and angiogenesis in models of full fracture and stress fracture. Neither Osx cKO nor Dmp1 cKO mice demonstrated significant impairments in intramedullary bone formation and angiogenesis following cortical defect. These data suggest that VEGFA from early osteolineage cells (Osx+), but not mature osteoblasts/osteocytes (Dmp1+), is critical at the time of bone injury for rapid periosteal angiogenesis and woven bone formation during fracture repair. Whereas VEGFA from another cell source, not from the osteoblast cell lineage, is necessary at the time of injury for maximum cortical defect intramedullary angiogenesis and osteogenesis. © 2019 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.


Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bony Callus / pathology
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Fracture Healing*
  • Fractures, Stress / pathology
  • Gene Deletion
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • Osteogenesis
  • Periosteum / metabolism
  • Sp7 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Dmp1 protein, mouse
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Sp7 Transcription Factor
  • Sp7 protein, mouse
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases