Alcohol induced epigenetic perturbations during the inflammatory stage of fracture healing.
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It is well recognized by orthopedic surgeons that fractures of alcoholics are more difficult to heal successfully and have a higher incidence of non-union, but the mechanism of alcohol's effect on fracture healing is unknown. In order to give direction for the study of the effects of alcohol on fracture healing, we propose to identify gene expression and microRNA changes during the early stages of fracture healing that might be attributable to alcohol consumption. As the inflammatory stage appears to be the most critical for successful fracture healing, this paper focuses on the events at day three following fracture or the stage of inflammation. Sprague-Dawley rats were placed on an ethanol-containing or pair-fed Lieber and DeCarli diet for four weeks prior to surgical fracture. Following insertion of a medullary pin, a closed mid-diaphyseal fracture was induced using a Bonnarens and Einhorn fracture device. At three days' post-fracture, the region of the fracture calluses was harvested from the right hind-limb. RNA was extracted and microarray analysis was conducted against the entire rat genome. There were 35 genes that demonstrated significant increased expression due to alcohol consumption and 20 that decreased due to alcohol. In addition, the expression of 20 microRNAs was increased and six decreased. In summary, while it is recognized that mRNA levels may or may not represent protein levels successfully produced by the cell, these studies reveal changes in gene expression that support the hypothesis that alcohol consumption affects events involved with inflammation. MicroRNAs are known to modulate mRNA and these findings were consistent with much of what was seen with mRNA microarray analysis, especially the involvement of smad4 which was demonstrated by mRNA microarray, microRNA and polymerase chain reaction.