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Ultrastructure of elastic cartilage in the rat external ear

, : Ultrastructure of elastic cartilage in the rat external ear. Cell & Tissue Research 218(1): 149-160

The structure of elastic cartilage in the external ear of the rat was investigated by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The narrow subperichondrial, boundary zone contains predominantly ovoid cells rich in cell organelles: mitochondria, Golgi complex, granular endoplasmic reticulum and smal (40-100 nm) vesicles. Scarce glycogen granules and bundles of 6-7 nm cytoplasmic filaments are present. Deeper in the boundary zone, 1 or more cytoplasmic lipid droplets appear and cytofilaments become more abundant. Fully differentiated chondrocytes in the central zone of the cartilage plate resemble white adipose cells. They are globular and contain a single, large cytoplasmic lipid droplet. The cytoplasm is reduced to a thin peripheral rim; it contains a flattened nucleus, few cytoplasmic organelles and abundant, densely packed, cytoplasmic filaments. The intercellular matrix is very sparse. The pericellular ring consists of collagen fibrils .apprx. 20 nm in diameter and a proteoglycan cartilage matrix in the form of a stellate reticulum. The complex of these 2 structures appears in the scanning electron micrographs as a network of randomly oriented, .apprx. 100 nm thick fibrils. Spaces between pericellular rings of matrix also contain thick elastic fibers or plates, apparently devoid of microfibrils. In scanning electron micrographs, elastic fibers could be detected only in a few areas, in which they were not obscured by other constituents of the matrix. Immature forms of elastic fibers, oxytalan (pre-elastic) and elaunin fibers, were found in the perichondrial and boundary zones.


PMID: 7195776

DOI: 10.1007/bf00210101

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