Differentiation and mineralization in chick chondrocytes maintained in a high cell density culture: a model for endochondral ossification

C Farquharson, C C Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chondrocytes isolated from the proliferative and differentiating zones of 3-wk-old chick growth plates were cultured in the presence of 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) and ascorbic acid for up to 21 d in a high cell density culture within Eppendorf tubes. The proliferative, differentiating, and calcification properties of the chondrocytes were examined by immunolocalization and by enzyme histochemical and biochemical methods. The cells maintained a chondrocyte phenotype throughout culture: they were round in shape and synthesized both collagen type II and proteoglycans. The expression of a hypertrophic phenotype was evident by Day 3 of culture and from this time onwards characteristics of terminal differentiation were observed. The cells were positive for both alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and c-myc protein and the surrounding matrix stained strongly for collagen type X. Small foci of mineralization associated with individual chondrocytes were first evident by Day 6 and more widespread areas of mineralization occupying large areas of matrix were present by Day 15. Mineralization occurred without the addition of exogenous phosphate to the medium. This culture system displays characteristics that are similar in both morphological and developmental terms to that of chick chondrocyte differentiation and calcification in vivo and therefore offers an excellent in vitro model for endochondral ossification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-94
Number of pages7
JournalIn Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Animal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1995


  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Animals
  • Calcification, Physiologic
  • Cartilage
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chickens
  • Collagen
  • DNA
  • Growth Plate
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Osteogenesis
  • Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • Staining and Labeling


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