Differential expression of phenotype by resting zone and growth region costochondral chondrocytes in vitro

B. D. Boyan, Z. Schwartz, L. D. Swain, D. L. Carnes, T. Zislis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


This study establishes an in vitro model for examining endochondral cartilage cell metabolism. Chondrocytes derived from the resting cell zone and adjacent growth zone of rat costochondral cartilage were compared for retention of phenotype in culture. At third passage confluence, two cell populations differ morphologically and biochemically. Resting zone cells are fibroblast-like, with smooth cell membranes and little rough endoplasmic reticulum. Growth zone cells are more polygonal, smaller in diameter, with numerous cytoplasmic extentions of the plasma membranes and abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum. Both cell populations produce matrix vesicles that are comparable morphologically to matrix vesicles isolated enzymatically from epiphyseal cartilage. While membrane vesicles are released into the media by cells derived from the resting zone as well as from the growth cartilage, alkaline phosphatase activity is enriched in media vesicles produced by growth cartilage cells. Alkaline phosphatase enriched vesicles appear to be preferentially incorporated into the extracellular matrix. Both the plasma membrane marker enzyme activity and the membrane phospholipid composition are differentially expressed in matrix vesicles and plasma membranes and are cell specific. Matrix vesicles produced by resting zone cells are enriched in alka-line phosphatase, 5′-nucleotidase, ouabain sensitive Na+/K+ ATPase and cardiolipin when compared to the cell membrane. In addition, the plasma membranes of these cells contain more phosphatidylcholine plus sphingomyelin than do growth cartilage plasma membranes. Resting zone cell matrix vesicles have less phosphatidylethanolamine than do vesicles from growth cartilage cultures. Matrix vesicles produced by growth cartilage cells contain one proteolipid at 43,000 Mr which comigrates with plasma membrane proteolipid and an additional proteolipid at approximately 3,000 Mr. These data indicate that both cells retain differential expression of phenotype in culture and that one expression of this phenotype is production of specific extracellular matrix vesicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1988


  • 5′-Nuleotidase
  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Chondrocytes
  • Matrix vesicles
  • Na/K ATPase
  • Phospholipids
  • Proteolipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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