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J Bone Miner Res. 1999 Nov;14(11):1838-47.

Parathyroid hormone-related protein regulates proliferation of condylar hypertrophic chondrocytes.

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Second Department of Orthodontics, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.


The condylar cartilage, an important growth site in the mandible, shows characteristic modes of growth and differentiation, e.g., it shows delayed appearance in development relative to the limb bud cartilage, originates from the periosteum rather than from undifferentiated mesenchymal cells, and shows rapid differentiation into hypertrophic chondrocytes as opposed to the epiphyseal growth plate cartilage, which has resting and proliferative zones. Recently, attention has been focused on the role of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) in modulating the proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes. To investigate further the characteristic modes of growth and differentiation of this cartilage, we used mice with a disrupted PTHrP allele. Immunolocalization of type X collagen, the extracellular matrix specifically expressed by hypertrophic chondrocytes, was greatly reduced in the condylar cartilage of homozygous PTHrP-knockout mice compared with wild-type mice. In contrast, immunolocalization of type X collagen of the tibial cartilage did not differ. In wild-type mice, proliferative chondrocytes were mainly located in both the flattened cell layer and hypertrophic cell layer of the condylar cartilage, but were limited to the proliferative zone of the tibial cartilage. The number of proliferative chondrocytes was greatly reduced in both cartilages of homozygous PTHrP-knockout mice. Moreover, apoptotic chondrocytes were scarcely observed in the condylar hypertrophic cell layer, whereas a number of apoptotic chondrocytes were found in the tibial hypertrophic zone. Expression of the type I PTH/PTHrP receptor was localized in the flattened cell layer and hypertrophic cell layer of the condylar cartilage, but was absent from the tibial hypertrophic chondrocytes. It is therefore concluded that, unlike tibial hypertrophic chondrocytes, condylar hypertrophic chondrocytes have proliferative activity in the late embryonic stage, and PTHrP plays a pivotal role in regulating the proliferative capacity and differentiation of these cells.

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