The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 41: 621 - 626 (1997)

Vol 41, Issue 4

Chondrocytes of the tibial dyschondroplastic lesion are apoptotic

Published: 1 August 1997

C A Praul, C V Gay and R M Leach

Department of Poultry Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802-3501, USA.


Tibialdyschondroplasia (TD) is a disease characterized by the formation of an avascular, non-mineralized lesion along the mature face of the epiphyseal growth plate in rapidly growing chickens. In the normal growth plate, cells progress from a proliferative phase to hypertrophy where the tissue is vascularized and replaced by trabecular bone. In TD, cells apparently cease their development early in the transition to hypertrophy. These diseased cells are not removed by vascularization nor does mineralization occur. The resulting lesion increases in size as proliferative cells continue to divide in the absence of removal and replacement of cartilage by bone. This laboratory has previously reported that cells of the TD lesion have the morphological appearance of necrotic cells or in some cases apoptotic cells. In this study we examine in more detail the status of cells comprising the TD lesion using molecular techniques. Genomic DNA isolated from cells of severe TD lesions show the nucleosomal laddering indicative of apoptosis, while DNA isolated from proliferative and hypertrophic cells does not. This result was confirmed by the use of the Cell Death Detection ELISA which shows quantitatively that cells from severe TD lesions contain nearly twice as many nucleosomal fragments as cells from the hypertrophic zone while proliferative chondrocytes do not have significant fragmentation. In situ examination of the epiphyseal growth plate with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) clearly shows that the cells of the severe TD lesion are apoptotic. Cells from smaller lesions are stained to a lesser extent or not at all by TUNEL. We believe that the apoptosis seen in TD is a secondary effect of the disease and not its primary cause.

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