Ultrastructure of normal epiphyseal cartilage of the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex in growing swine.

C. S. Carlson, H. D. Hilley, C. K. Henrikson

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Normal epiphyseal cartilage from the articular-epiphyseal cartilage complex (A-E complex) of the distal parts of the femur and humerus of growing commercial crossbred boars was collected, embedded in plastic, and studied by light and electron microscopies. The morphology of this cartilage was determined to provide a basis for comparison with cartilage affected with osteochondrosis, an important clinical disease in swine. Normal epiphyseal cartilage from the A-E complex in growing swine was divided into 4 major regions of cells: resting, proliferating, hypertrophic, and calcifying regions. Cells in the resting zone contained prominent lipid and densely aggregated glycogen. As the cells proliferated and matured, the lipid and glycogen became less prominent. The lipid droplets became smaller and scarcer, and the glycogen became dispersed in the cytoplasm. Proliferating and hypertrophic cells clustered in roughly egg-shaped groups of 4 to 8 cells/plane of section. In the calcifying region, the interterritorial matrix (between cell clusters) calcified, and the territorial matrix (uniting cells in a cluster) remained uncalcified. Calcified matrix extended the depth of one cell group from the area of capillary penetration, and the capillaries invaded by entering a cluster of cells. Territorial matrices in all regions of A-E complex epiphyseal cartilage were composed of randomly oriented collagen fibrils with a granular fibrillar proteoglycan network dispersed between the fibrils. Heterogeneity of chondrocytes was characterized by the presence of both light- and dark-staining cells in the proliferating through calcifying regions and by 3 morphologically distinct light cell types in the late hypertrophic and calcifying regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of veterinary research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1985


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