, Volume 347, Issue 3, pp 521-544
Date: 12 Feb 2012

BMPs are mediators in tissue crosstalk of the regenerating musculoskeletal system

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The musculoskeletal system is a tight network of many tissues. Coordinated interplay at a biochemical level between tissues is essential for development and repair. Traumatic injury usually affects several tissues and represents a large challenge in clinical settings. The current demand for potent growth factors in such applications thus accompanies the keen interest in molecular mechanisms and orchestration of tissue formation. Of special interest are multitasking growth factors that act as signals in a variety of cell types, both in a paracrine and in an autocrine manner, thereby inducing cell differentiation and coordinating not only tissue assembly at specific sites but also maturation and homeostasis. We concentrate here on bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), which are important crosstalk mediators known for their irreplaceable roles in vertebrate development. The molecular crosstalk during embryonic musculoskeletal tissue formation is recapitulated in adult repair. BMPs act at different levels from the initiation to maturation of newly formed tissue. Interestingly, this is influenced by the spatiotemporal expression of different BMPs, their receptors and co-factors at the site of repair. Thus, the regenerative potential of BMPs needs to be evaluated in the context of highly connected tissues such as muscle and bone and might indeed be different in more poorly connected tissues such as cartilage. This highlights the need for an understanding of BMP signaling across tissues in order to eventually improve BMP regenerative potential in clinical applications. In this review, the distinct members of the BMP family and their individual contribution to musculoskeletal tissue repair are summarized by focusing on their paracrine and autocrine functions.