In vivo model of human post-traumatic heterotopic ossification demonstrates early fibroproliferative signature

Jaira F. De Vasconcellos, Sonia Zicari, Stephen D. Fernicola, Daniel W. Griffin, Youngmi Ji, Emily H. Shin, Patrick Jones, Gregory T. Christopherson, Husain Bharmal, Carl Cirino, Thao Nguyen, Astor Robertson, Vincent D. Pellegrini, Leon J. Nesti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The relationship between the tissue injury healing response and development of heterotopic ossification (HO) is poorly understood. Here we compare a rat blast model and human traumatized muscle from a blast injury to study the early signatures of osteogenesis and fibrosis during the formation of HO. Methods: Rat and human tissues were characterized using histology, scanning electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, as well as gene and protein expression analysis. Additionally, animals and humans were assessed radiographically for HO formation following injury. Results: Markers of bone formation were dramatically increased in tissue samples from both humans and rats, and both displayed increased fibroproliferative regions within the injured tissues and elevated expression of markers of tissue fibrosis such as TGF-β1, Fibronectin, SMAD3 and PAI-1. Markers of inflammation and fibrosis (ACTA, TNFα, BMP1 and BMP3) were elevated at the RNA level in both rat and human samples. By day 42, bone formation in the rat blast model appeared similar in radiographs compared to human patients who progressed to develop post-traumatic HO. Conclusions: Our data demonstrates that a similar early fibrotic response is evident in both the rat blast model and the human tissues following a traumatic injury and demonstrates the relevance of this animal model for future translational studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number248
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Fibrosis
  • HO
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Rat blast model


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