Chondrocytes and longitudinal bone growth: the development of tibial dyschondroplasia

C Farquharson, D Jefferies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growth plate cartilage is central to the process of bone elongation. Chondrocytes originating within the resting zone of the growth plate proceed through a series of intermediate phenotypes: proliferating, prehypertrophic and hypertrophic, before reaching a terminally differentiated state. Disruption of this chondrocyte maturational sequence causes many skeletal abnormalities in poultry such as tibial dyschondroplasia (TD), which is a common cause of deformity and lameness in the broiler chicken. Cell and matrix components of the growth plate have been studied in order to determine the cause(s) of the premature arrest of chondrocyte differentiation and retention of prehypertrophic chondrocytes observed in TD. Chondrocyte proliferation proceeds normally in TD, but markers of the differentiated phenotype, local growth factors, and the vitamin D receptor are abnormally expressed within the prehypertrophic chondrocytes above, and within, the lesion. Tibial dyschondroplasia is also associated with a reduced incidence of apoptosis, suggesting that the lesion contains an accumulation of immature cells that have outlived their normal life span. Immunolocalization studies of matrix components suggest an abnormal distribution within the TD growth plate that is consistent with a failure of the chondrocytes to fully hypertrophy. In addition, the collagen matrix of the TD lesion is highly crosslinked, which may make the formed lesion more impervious to vascular invasion and osteoclastic resorption. Recent studies have applied the techniques of differential display and semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to RNA obtained from discrete populations of growth plate chondrocytes of different maturational phenotypes. This strategy has allowed us to compare phenotypically identical cell fractions from normal and TD growth plates in an attempt to identify possible candidate genes for TD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-1004
Number of pages11
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Bone Development
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chondrocytes
  • Collagen
  • Growth Plate
  • Osteochondrodysplasias
  • Poultry Diseases
  • Tibia


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