Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society

Alcohol-related deficient fracture healing is associated with activation of FoxO transcription factors in mice.

PMID 26998841


The process of fracture healing is complex, and poor or incomplete healing remains a significant health problem. Proper fracture healing relies upon resident mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) differentiation into chondrocytes and osteoblasts, which are necessary for callus formation and ossification. Alcohol abuse is a leading contributor to poor fracture healing. Although the mechanism behind this action is unknown, excessive alcohol consumption is known to promote systemic oxidative stress. The family of FoxO transcription factors is activated by oxidative stress, and FoxO activation antagonizes Wnt signaling, which regulates mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. We hypothesize that alcohol exposure increases oxidative stress leading to deficient fracture repair by activating FoxO transcription factors within the fracture callus which disrupts chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells. Our laboratory has developed an experimental model of delayed fracture union in mice using ethanol administration. We have found that ethanol administration significantly decreases external, cartilaginous callus formation, and hallmarks of endochondral ossification, and these changes are concomitant with increases in FoxO expression and markers of activation in fracture callus tissue of these mice. We were able to prevent these alcohol-induced effects with the administration of the antioxidant n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), suggesting that alcohol-induced oxidative stress produces the perturbed endochondral ossification and FoxO expression. © 2016 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 34:2106-2115, 2016.