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Ann-Shung Lieu, Jin Zhong Li, Donna J. Webb, Gerald R. Hankins, Shen-long Howng, and Gregory A. Helm


Promotion of the repair and regeneration of damaged adult neurons is a major goal of neurological science. In this study, the effects of G protein–coupled receptor kinase interacting protein 1 (GIT1) overexpression in human neuron cells were tested in human neuronal cells by using an adenoviral vector.


A recombinant GIT1 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) adenoviral vector (AdGIT1) was created by using a standard viral construction procedure. Human neuronal (NT2N) cells, which had been derived from an NT2 human teratocarcinoma cell line, were used in this experiment. Immunocytochemical methods were applied to identify NT2N cells with neural features and to probe the relationship among signaling proteins. Several biological activities were assessed, including neural spine formation, cell migration, and the levels of expression of growth-associated protein–43 (GAP-43) and active Cdc42. The number of cells with spine formation and the number of migrated cells were significantly higher in the AdGIT1-treated group of NT2N cells than in untreated (control) NT2N cells or in AdEGFP-treated NT2N cells. The levels of GAP-43 and active Cdc42 expression were significantly higher in the AdGIT1-treated group than that in the other two cell groups.


The results of this study demonstrate that GIT1 overexpression has the potential to promote neural spine formation and cell migration in human neuronal cells. At the same time, the increased level of GAP-43 in GIT1-overexpressed cells indicates that GIT1 may have the potential to improve growth and regeneration of damaged axons. The GIT1–β-PIX–Cdc42–PAK pathway may play an important role in neuronal outgrowth.

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Jason P. Sheehan, Jonas M. Sheehan, Howard Seeherman, Mark Quigg, and Gregory A. Helm

Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (rhBMP-2) in cranial applications.

Methods. Critical-sized calvarial defects were created bilaterally in four rhesus monkeys, and bilateral rectangular bone flaps were created in six others. Control and rhBMP-2—treated sides were randomly chosen for each animal, and an absorbable collagen sponge was used to deliver the growth factor. Over a 6-month period postoperatively, the animals were serially evaluated for bone healing and adverse BMP-related consequences by using the following methods: computerized tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, electroencephalography, histological investigations, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis.

The critical-sized defects for the rhBMP-2—treated and control sides attained 71 ± 12% and 28 ± 11% closure, respectively (four animals; p = 0.04). The CT scans demonstrated that the bone flaps treated with rhBMP-2 had complete osteointegration in five of six animals, whereas scans of the untreated bone flaps demonstrated uniformly poor osteointegration with the intact skull. Histological analysis confirmed well-formed bridges of bone on the rhBMP-2—treated sides. No epileptogenic activity was detected in any of the animals, and MR imaging revealed no evidence of adverse effects on the brain parenchyma. Meningitic irritation was not found on postoperative CSF sample analysis.

Conclusions. Treatment of bone flaps and critical-sized cranial defects with rhBMP-2 leads to improved bone formation and osteointegration in nonhuman primates. Initial evaluation of rhBMP-2 appears to indicate a good safety profile for use in cranial procedures in primates.

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Gregory A. Helm, Jin Zhong Li, Tord D. Alden, Sarah B. Hudson, Elisa J. Beres, Mary Cunningham, Mark M. Mikkelsen, Debra D. Pittman, Kelvin M. Kerns, and David F. Kallmes

Object. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are involved in the growth and development of many tissues, but it is their role in skeletal development and their unique ability to induce ectopic and orthotopic osteogenesis that have attracted the greatest interest. Expression of the BMP-13 gene is predominantly localized to hypertrophic chondrocytes in regions of endochondral bone formation during development, as well as in mature articular cartilage in the adult. In addition, the application of BMP-13 on a collagen carrier induces neotendon/neoligament formation when delivered subcutaneously or intramuscularly in rodents. The aim of the present study was to determine the histological and ultrastructural changes that occur after the intramuscular injection of a first-generation BMP-13 adenoviral vector.

Methods. Athymic nude rats were injected with 3.75 × 1010 plaque-forming units of adenovirus (Ad)-BMP-13 or Ad-β-galactosidase in the thigh musculature, and the region was examined using light and electron microscopy at various time points between 2 days and 100 days postinjection. As early as 2 days after injection of Ad-BMP-13, progenitor cells were observed infiltrating between the transduced muscle fibers. These cells subsequently proliferated, differentiated, and secreted large amounts of collagenous extracellular matrix. By 100 days postinjection, the treated tissue displayed the histological and ultrastructural appearance of neotendon/neoligament, which was clearly demarcated from the surrounding muscle. Small foci of bone and fibrocartilage were also seen within the treated tissue. A short-term bromodeoxyuridine study also demonstrated rapid mesenchymal cell proliferation at the Ad-BMP-13 injection site as early as 48 hours postinjection. At all time points, the control AD-β-gal injection sites were found to contain only normal muscle, without evidence of inflammation or mesenchymal cell proliferation.

Conclusions. The results of this study indicate that in the future the use of the BMP-13 gene may have therapeutic utility for the healing of tendon and ligament tears and avulsion injuries.

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Gregory A. Helm, Jonas M. Sheehan, Jason P. Sheehan, John A. Jane Jr., Charles G. diPierro, Nathan E. Simmons, George T. Gillies, David F. Kallmes, and Thomas M. Sweeney

✓ Autologous bone grafts are currently considered “gold standard” material for achieving long-term spinal arthrodesis. The present study was performed to determine whether demineralized bone matrix (DBM), type I collagen gels, or bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) can improve autologous bone spinal fusions. Using a unilateral decompression—contralateral fusion technique in dogs, each of these materials was added to an autologous bone graft. Volumetric analysis, histological analysis, and biomechanical testing were performed to assess the effectiveness of each material. The DBM had an inhibitory effect on solid bone fusion of the spine, whereas the type I collagen gels improved the bony interface between the graft and the host spine. The BMP-2 strongly enhanced the amount of bone deposition at the fusion site and increased the number of intervertebral levels that were solidly fused. This study strongly supports the use of BMP-2 as an additive to autologous bone grafts in spine stabilization.

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Charles G. diPierro, Gregory A. Helm, Christopher I. Shaffrey, James B. Chadduck, Scott L. Henson, Jacek M. Malik, Thomas A. Szabo, Nathan E. Simmons, and John A. Jane

✓ A new surgical technique for the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis features extensive unilateral decompression with undercutting of the spinous process and, to preserve stability, uses contralateral autologous bone fusion of the spinous processes, laminae, and facets. The operation was performed in 29 patients over a 19-month period ending in December of 1991. All individuals had been unresponsive to conservative treatment and presented with low-back pain in addition to signs and symptoms consistent with neurogenic claudication or radiculopathy. Nine had undergone previous lumbar decompressive surgery. The minimum and mean postoperative follow-up times were 2 and 2 1/2 years, respectively. The mean patient age was 64 years; only two patients were younger than 50 years of age.

Of the patients with neurogenic claudication, 69% reported complete pain relief at follow-up review. Of those with radicular symptoms, 41% had complete relief and 23% had mild residual pain that was rated 3 or less on a pain—functionality scale of 0 to 10. For the entire sample, this surgery decreased pain from 9.2 to 3.3 (p < 0.0001) on the scale. Sixty-nine percent of patients were satisfied with surgery. Low-back pain was significantly relieved in 62% of all patients (p < 0.0001). Low-back pain relief correlated negatively with number of levels decompressed (p < 0.05). To assess fusion, follow-up flexion/extension radiographs were obtained, and no motion was detected at the surgically treated levels in any patient.

The results suggest that this decompression procedure safely and successfully treats not only the radicular symptoms caused by lateral stenosis but also the neurogenic claudication symptoms associated with central stenosis. In addition, the procedure, by using contralateral autologous bone fusion along the laminae and spinous processes, can preserve stability without instrumentation.

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Gregory A. Helm, Nathan E. Simmons, Charles G. diPierro, and Neal F. Kassell

✓ Several types of adjustable clamp have been widely utilized to gradually occlude the carotid artery for the treatment of various intracranial vascular lesions. A fairly large number of patients, many of whom have not been adequately followed, have these clamps still in place. The authors report two patients, initially treated with a Crutchfield clamp for an intracranial aneurysm, in whom carotid artery system revascularization occurred through the clamp many years later, leading to continued filling of the aneurysm. Recommendations are given on monitoring patients with Crutchfield clamps in order to minimize long-term complications.