Structure and function of cartilage collagens

Microsc Res Tech. 1994 Aug 1;28(5):378-84. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1070280504.


Collagens are the major proteinaceous constituents of cartilage. Three collagen types participate in the formation of striated fibrils of cartilage, collagens II, IX, and XI. Collagen II and XI belong to the subgroup of fibrillar collagens and are structurally closely related, differing mainly in their N-propeptides. Collagen IX has a very different structure but is nevertheless an essential constituent of the striated fibrils. Two other collagen types are also found in cartilage but form distinct structures. Collagen VI, found mainly in the periphery of the chondrocytes, forms beaded filaments. These filaments are probably formed by interaction of collagen VI with hyaluronan. Collagen X is expressed by hypertrophic chondrocytes. It has been shown to form in vitro hexagonal lattices and in vivo to be associated either with striated fibrils or with mats which may correspond to the lattices. The functional role of the collagen diversity in cartilage is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / chemistry*
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiology
  • Collagen / chemistry*
  • Collagen / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Collagen