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J Endocrinol. 2011 Nov;211(2):109-21. doi: 10.1530/JOE-11-0048. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

The skeleton: a multi-functional complex organ: the growth plate chondrocyte and endochondral ossification.

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School of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Endochondral ossification is the process that results in both the replacement of the embryonic cartilaginous skeleton during organogenesis and the growth of long bones until adult height is achieved. Chondrocytes play a central role in this process, contributing to longitudinal growth through a combination of proliferation, extracellular matrix (ECM) secretion and hypertrophy. Terminally differentiated hypertrophic chondrocytes then die, allowing the invasion of a mixture of cells that collectively replace the cartilage tissue with bone tissue. The behaviour of growth plate chondrocytes is tightly regulated at all stages of endochondral ossification by a complex network of interactions between circulating hormones (including GH and thyroid hormone), locally produced growth factors (including Indian hedgehog, WNTs, bone morphogenetic proteins and fibroblast growth factors) and the components of the ECM secreted by the chondrocytes (including collagens, proteoglycans, thrombospondins and matrilins). In turn, chondrocytes secrete factors that regulate the behaviour of the invading bone cells, including vascular endothelial growth factor and receptor activator of NFκB ligand. This review discusses how the growth plate chondrocyte contributes to endochondral ossification, with some emphasis on recent advances.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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