In order to analyse the regional and age-related variations of primate condyles, immunohistochemical techniques were used to examine the localization of types I, II and III collagen and a variety of glycosaminoglycans in distinct anteroposterior regions of the mandibular condyle of two growing female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). In the juvenile monkey staining for types I and III collagen was weak in the fibrous tissue layer, intense in the pre-cartilaginous tissue layer and faint in the cartilaginous tissue layer; staining was significantly more intense in the posterosuperior and posterior regions than in the anterior region. Similarly, staining for cartilage-characteristic extracellular matrices, including type II collagen and keratan sulfate, was intense in the cartilaginous tissue layer of the posterior condyle. In contrast, in the late-adolescent monkey staining for the extracellular matrices was more intense in the anterior half of the condyle (i.e. from the anterior to the posterosuperior region) than in the posterior region, and most intense in the posterosuperior region. The results demonstrate that marked regional differences exist in the phenotypic expression of the extracellular matrices in the mandibular condyles of growing monkeys and that these differences vary between different developmental stages. The variations probably reflect the predominance of competing growth and articulatory functions in the mandibular condyles.
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