Bone wound healing is a highly dynamic and precisely controlled process through which damaged bone undergoes repair and complete regeneration. External factors can alter this process, leading to delayed or failed bone wound healing. The findings of recent studies suggest that the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can reduce bone mass, precipitate osteoporotic fractures and increase the rate of dental implant failure. With 10% of Americans prescribed antidepressants, the potential of SSRIs to impair bone healing may adversely affect millions of patients’ ability to heal after sustaining trauma. Here, we investigate the effect of the SSRI sertraline on bone healing through pre-treatment with (10 mg·kg-1 sertraline in drinking water, n = 26) or without (control, n = 30) SSRI followed by the creation of a 5-mm calvarial defect. Animals were randomized into three surgical groups: (a) empty/sham, (b) implanted with a DermaMatrix scaffold soak-loaded with sterile PBS or (c) DermaMatrix soak-loaded with 542.5 ng BMP2. SSRI exposure continued until sacrifice in the exposed groups at 4 weeks after surgery. Sertraline exposure resulted in decreased bone healing with significant decreases in trabecular thickness, trabecular number and osteoclast dysfunction while significantly increasing mature collagen fiber formation. These findings indicate that sertraline exposure can impair bone wound healing through disruption of bone repair and regeneration while promoting or defaulting to scar formation within the defect site.
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