The immunohistochemical localization of superoxide dismutase activity in the avian epithelial growth plate

Histochem J. 1989 Apr;21(4):210-5. doi: 10.1007/BF01747522.


Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a 'scavenger' enzyme which catalyses the dismutation (reduction-oxidation) of the superoxide anion (O2-.), a toxic free radical generated during normal cellular respiration. Light microscopy employing immunohistochemistry was utilized for localizing SOD activity in the chick epiphyseal cartilage. Antibodies to mammalian liver CuZn-SOD were prepared and the avidin-biotin-peroxidase technique (ABC complex) was utilized to localize activity for this enzyme in the growth plate cartilage. The localization of enzyme activity varied in accordance with the characteristic zonation pattern of the growth plate (zone of proliferation, zone of maturation, zone of cell hypertrophy and zone of matrix calcification). In the upper regions of the epiphyseal cartilage (the zones of proliferation and maturation), where the vascularity is poor and the oxygen tension low, SOD activity was localized within the chondrocytes. No extracellular activity was observed. However, in the lower regions of the growth plate (the zones of cell hypertrophy and matrix calcification), where both the vascularity and the oxygen tensions are increased, SOD activity was intense in both the chondrocytes and the surrounding extracellular matrix. Thus, the distribution of SOD enzyme activity in this tissue seems to vary in accordance with the level of oxygen present. The significance of the extracellular SOD activity, seen in the lower aspects of the growth plate cartilage, may indicate the sensitivity of matrix components, especially collagen, to toxic free radicals such as the superoxide anion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Epithelium / enzymology
  • Extracellular Matrix / enzymology
  • Growth Plate / enzymology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*


  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Oxygen