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Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000 Jan;8(1):44-52.

The incidence of enlarged chondrons in normal and osteoarthritic human cartilage and their relative matrix density.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics and Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To quantitate changes in the pericellular matrix in osteoarthritic (OA) articular cartilage.

DESIGN:

Chondrons were enzymatically isolated from normal and OA human cartilage. The cross-sectional area of the chondrons were measured. After immunolabeling for keratan sulfate, type VI collagen and type II collagen, the relative matrix density was determined for different size classes of chondrons with quantitative fluorescence microscopy.

RESULTS:

For individual chondrons, the average cross-sectional area (344+/-28 microm(2), mean+/-SE) for the normal specimens was significantly smaller than the average area (439+/-30 microm(2)) for the OA specimens. Using 496 microm(2) (mean+2 SD of the normal area) as the cut-off for enlarged chondrons, 33% of individual OA chondrons were enlarged compared to 16% for the normal. Chondrons under 300 microm(2) had a significantly higher density of keratan sulfate and type VI collagen than larger chondrons, while chondrons over 400 microm(2) had similar matrix densities.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is a higher incidence of enlarged chondrons in OA cartilage than in normal cartilage. The enlargement may initially be due to hydrodynamic swelling but further increases in size are due to increased matrix deposition.

Copyright 2000 OsteoArthritis Research Society International.

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