The mammalian temporomandibular joint is a highly specialized diarthrodial joint under multidirectional compressive and tensile forces. In such a complicated biomechanical environment, the phenotypic expression of extracellular matrix may vary in different regions of the mandibular condylar cartilage. To test this hypothesis, immunohistochemical techniques were used to examine the localization of type I and type II collagens in various anterioposterior regions of the condylar cartilage of 4-week-old rats. In the posterosuperior region, which is mainly subjected to compressive forces, a strong reaction for type II collagen was observed in the cartilaginous layer (maturative and hypertrophic cell layers), and a rather weak reaction was observed for type I collagen in the precartilaginous and cartilaginous layers, compared with the reactions in other peripheral regions. Proceeding anteriorly, staining for type I collagen increased, while that for type II collagen decreased. In posteroinferior cartilage, which is subjected mainly to tensile forces because of its direct attachment to the retrodiscal pad, staining for type I collagen was strong, and that for type II collagen was faint in the cartilaginous layer. These results demonstrate that marked regional differences exist in the phenotypic expression of two major collagen components in mandibular condylar cartilage, which may reflect the local functional environment and cellular response.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology