Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 228–236 | Cite as

Changes in proteoglycan aggregates during cartilage mineralization

  • Joseph A. Buckwalter
  • Lawrence C. Rosenberg
  • Robin Ungar
Laboratory Investigations


The dimensions of proteoglycan aggregates, aggregated monomers, and nonaggregated monomers, and the proportion of aggregated monomers found in the different zones of bovine rib growth plate have been defined by the electron microscopic monolayer technique. Growth plates were divided into the following 1 mm thick transverse slices; the hypertrophic zone, the lower proliferative zone, the upper proliferative zone, a transitional zone, and epiphyseal cartilage. Proteoglycans prepared by associative extraction followed by equilibrium density gradient centrifugation under associative conditions were examined by electron microscopy. Proteoglycan aggregate size decreased sharply in the lower proliferative and hypertrophic zones, as indicated by decreases in hyaluronate filament length and in the number of monomers per aggregate. Aggregated proteoglycan monomers did not show evidence of proteolytic degradation. Nonaggregated monomers were shorter than aggregated monomers, but their mean length did not decrease in the lower proliferative and hypertrophic zones. However, the proportion of nonaggregated monomers increased in these zones. Thus, before the cartilage matrix mineralized in the lower proliferative zone and as the cartilage matrix began to mineralize in the hypertrophic zone, proteoglycan aggregate size decreased and the proportion of aggregated monomers decreased. These changes in matrix proteoglycans may be one of the events that allow cartilage mineralization.

Key words

Proteoglycans Electron microscopy Enchondral ossification Growth plate Mineralization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph A. Buckwalter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lawrence C. Rosenberg
    • 3
  • Robin Ungar
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Orthopaedic DepartmentIowa City Veterans Administration Medical CenterIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Orthopaedic Research LaboratoriesMontefiore Medical CenterBronxUSA

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