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Int Orthop. 2012 Sep;36(9):1961-6. doi: 10.1007/s00264-012-1578-6. Epub 2012 May 25.

Behaviour of human physeal chondro-progenitorcells in early growth plate injury response in vitro.

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Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Surgery, Medical University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 34, 8036 Graz, Austria.



The aim of this study was to investigate the proliferation and differentiation behaviour of a defined cell population gained from the human growth plate, namely, chondro-progenitorcells (CPCs), in the initial inflammatory phase of growth plate injury response in vitro.


Growth plate cells were sorted via FACS and differentiated along adipogenic and osteogenic lineage to confirm their progenitor features. To mimic the inflammatory phase of injury response at the growth plate they were treated with IL-1β and exposed to cyclic mechanical loading. A BrdU assay was used to investigate CPC proliferation. CPC differentiation behaviour was analysed by RT-PCR.


CPCs (CD45-, CD34-, CD73+, CD90+, and CD105+) showed a successful differentiation along adipogenic and osteogenic lineage. Under conditions simulating the inflammatory phase of injury response at the growth plate in vitro CPCs differentiated towards hypertrophy while chondrogenesis and ossification were inhibited. Proliferation was not significantly altered.


This study showed that CPCs can be isolated from the human growth plate and expanded in vitro. In the first phase of injury response at the growth plate these cells differentiate towards hypertrophy. As longitudinal growth is obtained by chondrocyte proliferation and volume increase during hypertrophy this maturation might be the first step towards post-traumatic growth disorders such as unwanted premature ossification of the growth plate.

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