Inducible expression of Wnt7b promotes bone formation in aged mice and enhances fracture healing

Deye Song, Guangxu He, Fangfang Song, Zhepeng Wang, Xiaochen Liu, Lele Liao, Jiangdong Ni, Matthew J. Silva, Fanxin Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


There remain unmet clinical needs for safe and effective bone anabolic therapies to treat aging-related osteoporosis and to improve fracture healing in cases of nonunion or delayed union. Wnt signaling has emerged as a promising target pathway for developing novel bone anabolic drugs. Although neutralizing antibodies against the Wnt antagonist sclerostin have been tested, Wnt ligands themselves have not been fully explored as a potential therapy. Previous work has demonstrated Wnt7b as an endogenous ligand upregulated during osteoblast differentiation, and that Wnt7b overexpression potently stimulates bone accrual in the mouse. The earlier studies however did not address whether Wnt7b could promote bone formation when specifically applied to aged or fractured bones. Here we have developed a doxycycline-inducible strategy where Wnt7b is temporally induced in the bones of aged mice or during fracture healing. We report that forced expression of Wnt7b for 1 month starting at 15 months of age greatly stimulated trabecular and endosteal bone formation, resulting in a marked increase in bone mass. We further tested the effect of Wnt7b on bone healing in a murine closed femur fracture model. Induced expression of Wnt7b at the onset of fracture did not affect the initial cartilage formation but promoted mineralization of the subsequent bone callus. Thus, targeted delivery of Wnt7b to aged bones or fracture sites may be explored as a potential therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalBone Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


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