Study Design. Posterolateral lumbar spine fusions in New Zealand white rabbits.
Objective. To evaluate the efficacy of recombinant human growth and differentiation factor-5 (rhGDF-5) lyophilized to a Healos carrier (cross-linked type I collagen with hydroxyapatite coating; DePuy Spine, Inc., Raynham, MA) in inducing fusion.
Summary of Background Data. Bone graft substitutes have become an area of considerable interest. rhGDF-5 is one such product. Limited lumbar preclinical studies have been performed with this product.
Methods. Single-level, intertransverse process fusions were performed in 67 rabbits using iliac crest autograft (n = 13), Healos alone (n = 13), or 0.5, 1.0, or 1.5 mg/cc rhGDF-5 lyophilized to Healos (n = 13 per group). At 8 weeks, the rabbits were euthanized. Fusion masses were assessed.
Results. There were 2 animals (3%) lost to complication. Manual palpation revealed fusion rates for autograft of 38% (5/13), Healos alone of 0% (0/13), and each of the Healos/rhGDF-5 groups of 100% (13/13). Histologic analyses were 95% sensitive and 95% specific for confirming fusion. Histologic differences were found among the treatment groups.
Conclusions. In this rabbit fusion model, Healos/rhGDF-5 induced fusion in 100% of the rabbits studied. This rate was significantly higher than the fusion rate induced by autograft (38%). Overall, these results support continued research of Healos/rhGDF-5 as a potential bone graft alternative.