Immunolocalization of matrix proteins in different human cartilage subtypes

Histol Histopathol. 2006 May;21(5):477-85. doi: 10.14670/HH-21.477.


Cartilage exerts many functions in different tissues and parts of the body. Specific requirements presumably also account for a specific biochemical composition. In this study, we investigated the presence and distribution pattern of matrix components, in particular collagen types in the major human cartilages (hyaline, fibrous, and elastic cartilage) by histochemical and immunohistochemical means. Macroscopically normal articular cartilages, menisci, disci (lumbar spine), epiglottal, and tracheal tissues were obtained from donors at autopsy. Aurical and nasal cartilages were part of routine biopsy samples from tumor resection specimens. Conventional histology and immunohistochemical stainings with collagen types I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and X and S-100 protein antibodies were performed on paraformaldehyde-fixed and paraffin-embedded specimens. The extracellular matrix is the functional component of all cartilages as indicated by the low cell densities. In particular major scaffold forming collagen types I (in fibrous cartilage) and II (in hyaline and elastic cartilages) as well as collagen type X (in the calcified layer of articular cartilages, the inner part of tracheal clips, and epiglottis cartilage) showed a specific distribution. In contrast, the "minor" collagen types III, V, and VI were found in all, collagen type IV in none of the cartilage subtypes. In this study, we present a biochemical profile of the major cartilage types of the human body which is important for understanding the physiology and the pathophysiology of cartilages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Count
  • Collagen Type I / analysis
  • Collagen Type II / analysis
  • Collagen Type III / analysis
  • Collagen Type V / analysis
  • Collagen Type VI / analysis
  • Collagen Type X / analysis
  • Elastic Cartilage / chemistry*
  • Elastic Cartilage / cytology
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / analysis*
  • Fibrocartilage / chemistry*
  • Fibrocartilage / cytology
  • Humans
  • Hyaline Cartilage / chemistry*
  • Hyaline Cartilage / cytology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteoglycans / analysis
  • S100 Proteins / analysis


  • Collagen Type I
  • Collagen Type II
  • Collagen Type III
  • Collagen Type V
  • Collagen Type VI
  • Collagen Type X
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • S100 Proteins