The role of oxygen during fracture healing

Chuanyong Lu, Neema Saless, Xiaodong Wang, Arjun Sinha, Sebastian Decker, Galateia Kazakia, Huagang Hou, Benjamin Williams, Harold M. Swartz, Thomas K. Hunt, Theodore Miclau, Ralph S. Marcucio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Oxygen affects the activity of multiple skeletogenic cells and is involved in many processes that are important for fracture healing. However, the role of oxygen in fracture healing has not been fully studied. Here we systematically examine the effects of oxygen tension on fracture healing and test the ability of hyperoxia to rescue healing defects in a mouse model of ischemic fracture healing. Mice with tibia fracture were housed in custom-built gas chambers and groups breathed a constant atmosphere of 13% oxygen (hypoxia), 21% oxygen (normoxia), or 50% oxygen (hyperoxia). The influx of inflammatory cells to the fracture site, stem cell differentiation, tissue vascularization, and fracture healing were analyzed. In addition, the efficacy of hyperoxia (50% oxygen) as a treatment regimen for fracture nonunion was tested. Hypoxic animals had decreased tissue vascularity, decreased bone formation, and delayed callus remodeling. Hyperoxia increased tissue vascularization, altered fracture healing in un-complicated fractures, and improved bone repair in ischemia-induced delayed fracture union. However, neither hypoxia nor hyperoxia significantly altered chondrogenesis or osteogenesis during early stages of fracture healing, and infiltration of macrophages and neutrophils was not affected by environmental oxygen after bone injury. In conclusion, our results indicate that environmental oxygen levels affect tissue vascularization and fracture healing, and that providing oxygen when fractures are accompanied by ischemia may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Fracture
  • Hyperoxia
  • Hypoxia
  • Oxygen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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