Intramembranous ossification mechanism for bone bridge formation at the growth plate cartilage injury site

Cory J. Xian, Fiona H. Zhou, Rosa C. McCarty, Bruce K. Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Salter's type III and type IV growth plate injuries often induce bone bridge formation at the injury site. To understand the cellular mechanisms, this study characterized proximal tibial transphyseal injury in rats. Histologically, bony bridge trabeculae appeared on day 7, increased on day 10, and became well-constructed on day 14 with marrow. Prior to and during bone bridging, there was no cartilage proteoglycan metachromatic staining and no collagen-X immunostaining at the injury site, nor was there any up-regulation of BrdU-labelled chondrocyte proliferation at the adjacent physeal cartilage, suggesting no new cartilage formation at the injury site. However, infiltration of vimentin-immunopositive mesenchymal cells from metaphysis and epiphysis was apparent on day 3, with the mesenchymal population being prominent on days 7 and 10 and subsided on day 14. Among these infiltrates were osteoprogenitor precursors expressing osteoblast differentiation factor (cbf-α1) on day 3, along with some cbf-α1+ osteoblast-like cells lining bone trabeculae on days 7 and 10. Some mesenchymal cells and trabecula-lining cells were also alkaline phosphatase-immunopositive, further suggesting their osteoblast differentiation. From day 7 onwards, some trabecula-lining cells became osteocalcin-producing mature osteoblasts. These results suggest that bone bridge formation after growth plate injury occurs directly via intramembranous ossification through recruitment of marrow-derived osteoprogenitor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone bridge
  • Growth plate or physis injury
  • Intramembranous ossification
  • Osteoprogenitor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Cite this