The Role of Trace Elements in the Development of Cartilage Matrix

  • Roland M. LeachJr.


Several trace elements are essential for normal skeletal development in young animals and man. These include copper, manganese, silicon, and zinc. Deficiencies of these nutrients produce specific pathological lesions in the epiphyseal growth plate, a tissue which plays a key role in endochondral bone formation. The morphology and biochemistry of this tissue has been recently reviewed (Leach and Gay, 1987). Briefly, the tissue is comprised of chondrocytes which can be divided into zones based upon stage of maturation: resting, proliferative, prehypertrophic and hypertrophic. These zones represent specific stages of maturation or differentiation of the chondrocyte with each type having specific biochemical characteristics. This is especially true for the hypertrophic chondrocyte which is removed by metaphysial blood vessels and replaced by trabecular bone. The chondrocytes of the epiphyseal growth plate are responsible for synthesizing the extracellular matrix typical of the cartilage, the major constituents being proteoglycans and collagen. This tissue is sensitive to the endocrine system as well as nutrition, with the growth hormone dependent IGF-I being a key factor in cartilage growth and development. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the influence of trace elements on cartilage metabolism with emphasis upon extracellular matrix formation and metabolism.


Hyaluronic Acid Zinc Deficiency Cartilage Matrix Copper Deficiency Proliferative Zone 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roland M. LeachJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Poultry ScienceThe Penn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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