To date, pharmacological strategies designed to accelerate bone fracture healing are lacking. We subjected 8-week-old C57BL/6 male mice to closed, transverse, mid-diaphyseal tibial fractures and treated them with intraperitoneal injection of a vehicle or r-irisin (100 µg/kg/weekly) immediately following fracture for 10 days or 28 days. Histological analysis of the cartilaginous callus at 10 days showed a threefold increase in Collagen Type X (p = 0.0012) and a reduced content of proteoglycans (40%; p = 0.0018). Osteoclast count within the callus showed a 2.4-fold increase compared with untreated mice (p = 0.026), indicating a more advanced stage of endochondral ossification of the callus during the early stage of fracture repair. Further evidence that irisin induced the transition of cartilage callus into bony callus was provided by a twofold reduction in the expression of SOX9 (p = 0.0058) and a 2.2-fold increase in RUNX2 (p = 0.0137). Twenty-eight days post-fracture, microCT analyses showed that total callus volume and bone volume were increased by 68% (p = 0.0003) and 67% (p = 0.0093), respectively, and bone mineral content was 74% higher (p = 0.0012) in irisin-treated mice than in controls. Our findings suggest that irisin promotes bone formation in the bony callus and accelerates the fracture repair process, suggesting a possible use as a novel pharmacologic modulator of fracture healing.
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