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Matrix Biol. 1998 Apr;17(1):65-73.

Identification of types II, IX and X collagens at the insertion site of the bovine achilles tendon.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Research Center, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Achilles tendinous collagen fibrils insert into the calcaneus by first passing through a zone that is defined histologically as fibrocartilaginous. This zone consists of four regions: tendon proper, non-mineralized and mineralized fibrocartilage and bone. The function of this zone has not yet been clearly defined. To gain more insight into the role of this fibrocartilaginous zone, collagens present in the zone of the Achilles tendon-calcaneus interface were isolated and characterized. Types II, IX and X collagens were identified in the pepsin digests of the tissue harvested from the bovine Achilles tendon-calcaneus interface. Western blotting using specific antisera to types II, IX and X collagens confirmed the identity of these collagens. Immunofluorescence localization placed type X collagen predominantly in the mineralized zone of the tendon-calcaneus junction, while type IX collagen was distributed throughout the the insertion site. The presence of the cartilage-specific collagens at the Achilles tendon-calcaneus-interface suggests that this zone is cartilaginous in nature. The presence of type X collagen at this junction is not clear, but our present findings go along with the previous report which showed that type X collagen is present in the mineralized zone of the medial collateral ligament femoral insertion site. These data suggest that type X collagen may be a resident of mineralized fibrocartilaginous zones of tendon or ligament-bone junctions and may participate in anchoring ligament or tendon to bone.

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