Objective: To perform a systematic study on the production and deposition of type X collagen in developing, aging, and osteoarthritic (OA) mouse articular cartilage.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry was employed to define the distribution of type X collagen and Northern analyses to determine the messenger RNA levels as an indicator of the synthetic activity of the protein.
Results: Type X collagen was observed in the epiphyseal and articular cartilage of mouse knee joints throughout development and growth. Type X collagen deposition in the transitional zone of articular cartilage became evident toward cessation of growth, at the age of 2-3 months. The most intense staining for type X collagen was limited to the tidemark, the border between uncalcified and calcified cartilage. Northern analysis confirmed that the type X collagen gene is also transcribed by articular cartilage chondrocytes. Intense immunostaining was observed in the areas of OA lesions, specifically, at sites of osteophyte formation and surface fibrillation. Type X collagen deposition was also seen in degenerating menisci.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that type X collagen is a natural component of mouse articular cartilage throughout development, growth, and aging. This finding and the deposition of type X collagen at sites of OA lesions suggest that type X collagen may have a role in providing structural support for articular cartilage.