The role of the growth plate in longitudinal bone growth

Poult Sci. 1991 Aug;70(8):1806-14. doi: 10.3382/ps.0701806.


The epiphyseal growth plate is the main site of longitudinal growth of the long bones. At this site, cartilage is formed by the proliferation and hypertrophy of cells and synthesis of the typical extracellular matrix. The formed cartilage is then calcified, degraded, and replaced by osseous tissue. Proliferation and differentiation of cartilage cells (i.e., chondrocytes) as studied mostly in culture, is regulated by various endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine agents such as growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), transforming growth factor (TGE-beta), and vitamin D metabolites (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol and 24,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol). Avian chondrocyte proliferation is enhanced by agents which use adenosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate as a second messenger, such as parathyroid hormone or prostaglandin-E2, and is depressed by guanosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate agonists, such as atrial natriuretic peptide. Several of the regulating agents also affect synthesis of the main extracellular components (i.e., collagen and proteoglycans) and their transfer to the extracellular space. Cartilage calcification involves matrix vesicles secreted by the chondrocytes at a specific stage. Calcification probably involves some initial nucleation agent and participation of phosphatases. During sexual maturation, the growth plate closes by an unknown mechanism and longitudinal bone growth ceases. Disorders in the metabolism of the controlling agents or the cellular responses in growth plate may lead to several deformities classified as dysplasias. In poultry, this class of disorders is represented by chondrodystrophy and dyschondroplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / growth & development*
  • Bone Development*
  • Cartilage / cytology
  • Cartilage / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Growth Plate / cytology
  • Growth Plate / physiology*