Our previous studies have shown that rat tracheal chondrocytes become larger and hypertrophic, and that the cartilage matrix calcifies during development. Type X collagen is a short collagen molecule identified in hypertrophic and calcified cartilage in the growth plate of long bones during endochondral ossification. The present study was designed to investigate the distribution of type X collagen in rat tracheal cartilage during development before and after hypertrophization and calcification. Tracheas from postnatal Wistar rats, newborn, and at 4, 8 and 10 weeks were fixed along with hind limbs from newborn rats. Serial sections were made and adjacent sections were processed for von Kossa staining or immunohistochemistry for type X collagen. In addition, the immunoreactivity to type II collagen was examined as a control. The anti-type X collagen antibody stained hypertrophic and/or calcified cartilage in the newborn rat tibia. The immunoreaction for type X collagen was localized in the uncalcified peripheral region of tracheal cartilage in 4, 8 and 10-week-old rats. In contrast, the anti-type X collagen antibody did not show immunoreactivity to hypertrophic or calcified cartilage in the central region of the 10-week-old rat tracheal cartilage. The present study has suggested that type X collagen is not involved in hypertrophization of chondrocytes or calcification of the matrix in developing rat tracheal cartilage.
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