Critical-size bone defects after compound fractures, infection, or tumor resection are challenging to treat. The same is true for fractures in patients with impaired bone healing due to metabolic diseases and cancer. Despite considerable progress over the last decade in surgical techniques, material design, and dedicated imaging approaches, these scenarios represent unsolved clinical problems. The high socioeconomic burden of such conditions justifies increasing interest in novel osteoinductive drugs for adjuvant therapeutic approaches. There is an increasing body of experimental and clinical literature on potentially promising effects of growth factors, anti-resorptive, and anabolic agents. The true clinical efficacy of these, however, is discussed controversially. Therefore, we aimed to critically examine the hypothesis that targeted adjuvant therapies have the potential to enhance bone regeneration in critical-size bone defects and under systemic conditions that impair bone healing. This first approach to the topic deals with small molecule drugs and compounds that influence the immune response and inflammatory processes. In particular, literature reporting on selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors has been reviewed with respect to their local and systemic mode of action and to stimulate further research on bone healing under critical conditions.
Keywords: Biomaterials; critical-size bone defects; cyclooxygenase-2; innate immunity; prostanoids; signaling; small molecules.