The morphological features of avian epiphyseal cartilage have been investigated by freeze‐fracture techniques. Progressive changes occurred in both the cells and the matrix during differentiation. Chondrocytes changed in shape from small flattened cells with few, short cellular processes, to enlarged ovoid cells with numerous long processes often associated with extracellular vesicles. In the matrix these vesicles appeared first in the cellular lacunae, then in the extralacunar matrix, becoming larger and more numerous. Large membrane‐associated particles (MAPS) were seen on the p faces of the plasmalemma. These became progressively concentrated on and around the cellular processes, with few large MAPS being seen on the e face. Similar distribution of MAPS was seen in the matrix vesicles. Domains of hydrated proteoglycan aggregates were manifest as regular fracture patterns in the extralacunar matrix of the upper regions of the plate. Collagen fibrils progressively increased in size and state of aggregation, often being associated with matrix vesicles and in the end, with long plate‐like mineral crystals. These findings, while in basic agreement with patterns observed with TEM, reveal important new features concerning cellular and matrix structure during cartilage differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)