The cartilaginous skeleton of an elasmobranch fish does not heal

Matrix Biol. 2004 Apr;23(1):15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2004.02.001.


The inability of articular cartilage to heal satisfactorily is becoming, with ageing populations, an important medical problem. One question that has not been raised is whether a mechanism for the repair of cartilage evolved in animals with cartilaginous skeletons. Fin rays of dogfish were cut and the fish maintained for up to 6 months. The initial inflammatory reaction around the cut rays lasts for 2 weeks. By 4 weeks the cut ends are covered by fibrous tissue. At 12 weeks some areas of cartilage-like tissue are developing. Development of these areas continues and at 26 weeks large chondrocyte-like cells are surrounded by matrix. This tissue is in regions of poor vascularity. It does not have the typical appearance of hyaline cartilage, nor is it integrated with the cartilage of the fin rays. No changes in the cut surfaces of the fin rays are observed at any time. It is concluded that no mechanism has evolved in the elasmobranch fishes for the repair of their cartilaginous skeleton. This is discussed in relation to previous investigations of the reactions of cartilage to injury in embryonic, neonatal and adult tissues of higher vertebrates.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / injuries
  • Cartilage / pathology
  • Cartilage / physiology*
  • Elasmobranchii / anatomy & histology
  • Elasmobranchii / injuries
  • Elasmobranchii / physiology*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*