Mandibular distraction osteogenesis is a well-developed clinical modality for the treatment of craniofacial deformities and dental arch discrepancies, in combination with orthodontic treatment. However, in our previous study, orthodontic tooth movement into the distraction gap caused severe root resorption. The present study aimed to clarify the osteoclastogenic activity of cells in the distraction gap. We hypothesized that the gene expression of osteoclastogenic- and osteoclast-supporting molecules in osteoblasts and stromal cells would increase at distraction sites during the consolidation period. An animal model experiment involving rabbits was designed for mandibular distraction osteogenesis and subjected to in situ hybridization analysis. The number of osteoclasts was larger in the distraction gap during the early consolidation period than in normal controls, due to an increase of gene expression for osteoclastogenic cytokines in osteoblasts. It was concluded that osteoclastogenic and osteoclastic activities are stimulated at distraction sites during the early consolidation period.
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