Role of morphogenetic proteins in skeletal tissue engineering and regeneration

Nat Biotechnol. 1998 Mar;16(3):247-52. doi: 10.1038/nbt0398-247.


Morphogenesis is the developmental cascade of pattern formation and body plan establishment, culminating in the adult form. It has formed the basis for the emerging discipline of tissue engineering, which uses principles of molecular developmental biology and morphogenesis gleaned through studies on inductive signals, responding stem cells, and the extracellular matrix to design and construct spare parts that restore function to the human body. Among the many organs in the body, bone has considerable powers for regeneration and is a prototype model for tissue engineering. Implantation of demineralized bone matrix into subcutaneous sites results in local bone induction. This model mimics sequential limb morphogenesis and has permitted the isolation of bone morphogens, such as bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), from demineralized adult bone matrix. BMPs initiate, promote, and maintain chondrogenesis and osteogenesis, but are also involved in the morphogenesis of organs other than bone. The symbiosis of the mechanisms underlying bone induction and differentiation is critical for tissue engineering and is governed by both biomechanics (physical forces) and context (microenvironment/extracellular matrix), which can be duplicated by biomimetic biomaterials such as collagens, hydroxyapatite, proteoglycans, and cell adhesion glycoproteins, including fibronectins and laminin. Rules of tissue architecture elucidated in bone morphogenesis may provide insights into tissue engineering and be universally applicable for all organs/tissues, including bones and joints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials*
  • Biomedical Engineering / methods*
  • Bone Development / physiology
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / physiology*
  • Bone Regeneration
  • Cartilage / chemistry
  • Cartilage / physiology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Stem Cells


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins