Low dose of propranolol does not affect rat osteotomy healing and callus strength

Peter Smitham, Lawrence Crossfield, Gillian Hughes, Allen Goodship, Gordon Blunn, Chantal Chenu

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Experimental studies suggest that the β-blocker propranolol stimulates bone formation but little work has investigated its effect on fracture healing. In this study, we examined if a low dose of propranolol, previously shown to be preventive against bone loss in rats, improves bone repair. Female Wistar rats were injected with saline or propranolol (0.1 mg/kg/day) (n = 20/group), 5 days a week for 8 weeks. Three weeks after the beginning of treatment, all rats underwent a mid-diaphyseal transverse osteotomy in the left femur. Radiographic analysis of ostetomy healing was performed 2 and 5 weeks after osteotomy. Rats were sacrificed at 5 weeks and femora collected for measurements of fracture strength by torsional testing, callus volume, and mineral content by micro-CT analysis and histology of fracture callus. Eighty nine percent of osteotomies achieved apparent radiological union by 5 weeks in both groups. Propranolol treatment did not significantly alter the torsional strength of the fractured femur compared with controls. The volume and mineralization of fracture callus at 5 weeks were not significantly different in both groups. Histology showed that endochondral ossification was not affected by propranolol. Altogether, our results demonstrate that propranolol using the regimen described does not significantly improve or inhibit rat osteotomy healing and mechanical strength.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-893
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number7
Early online date7 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones
  • Bony Callus
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures
  • Femur
  • Fracture Healing
  • Humans
  • Osteogenesis
  • Osteotomy
  • Propranolol
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • X-Ray Microtomography
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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