Therapeutic ultrasound (US) is a widely used form of biophysical stimulation that is increasingly applied to promote fracture healing. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), which is encoded by three related but different genes, is known to play a major part in bone growth and repair. However, the effects of US on the expression of the TGF-beta genes and the physical acoustic mechanisms involved in initiating changes in gene expression in vitro, are not yet known. The present study demonstrates that US had a differential effect on these TGF-beta isoforms in a human osteoblast cell line, with the highest dose eliciting the most pronounced up-regulation of both TGF-beta1 and TGF-beta3 at 1 hour after treatment and thereafter declining. In contrast, US had no effect on TGF-beta2 expression. Fluid streaming rather than thermal effects or cavitation was found to be the most likely explanation for the gene responses observed in vitro
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