SAGE Journals

Impairment of Cyclo-oxygenase-2 Function Results in Abnormal Growth Plate Development and Bone Microarchitecture but Does Not Affect Longitudinal Growth of the Long Bones in Skeletally Immature Mice

Posted on 2019-03-17 - 12:00

Despite the general awareness that cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) is crucial for endochondral ossification, the role of COX-2 in skeletal development is largely unknown. We hypothesized that inhibition or genetic loss of COX-2 leads to impaired growth plate development and consequently impaired postnatal development of the long bones.


Skeletally immature (5 weeks old) B6;129S-Ptgs2tm1Jed/J wildtype mice were treated for 10 weeks with celecoxib (daily oral administration 10 mg/kg) or placebo and compared with B6;129S-Ptgs2tm1Jed/J homozygous knockout mice (n = 12 per group).


Fifteen weeks postnatally, no significant difference in growth plate (zone) thickness was found between groups. However, significantly higher proteoglycan content and lower expression levels of collagen type II and X staining in the growth plates of celecoxib-treated mice, and to a lesser extent in COX-2 knockout mice. In addition, a significantly decreased cell number and cell size were observed in the hypertrophic zone of the growth plates of both experimental groups. Micro–computed tomography analysis of the subchondral bone region directly beneath the growth plate showed significantly higher bone density and trabecular thickness, following celecoxib treatment. Despite the detected differences in growth plate extracellular matrix composition and subchondral bone morphology, no difference was found in the length of the tibia in celecoxib-treated mice or COX-2 knockout mice.


Genetic loss of COX-2 or treatment with celecoxib did not result in detectable differences in gross murine formation of the tibia or femur. However, there were notable phenotypic features detected in the maturation of the growth plate (hypertrophic zone and subchondral bone) as a result of the celecoxib treatment.


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