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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Ultrastructural immunolocalization of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) in the articular cartilage on the equine third carpal bone in trained and untrained horses

Ekman, Stina; Skiöldebrand, Eva; Heinegård, Dick; Hultenby, Kjell


The present study was designed to delineate the presence of COMP at the ultrastructural level comparing concentrations between two areas of articular cartilage from the equine third carpal bone, subjected to different loading, from trained and untrained horses. We also analyzed the fibril thickness of collagen type II in the same compartments and zones. Samples were collected from high load-bearing areas of the dorsal radial facet (intermittent high load) and an area of the palmar condyle (low constant load) in five non-trained and three trained young racehorses. The data show that COMP is much less abundant in the matrix in intermittent high loaded areas of articular cartilage from trained horses as compared to the untrained horses (p = 0.036). On the other hand, the untrained horses often displayed a higher immunolabeling in loaded areas compared to unloaded areas, indicating that an adequate dynamic load promotes COMP synthesis and/or retention, while an excessive load may have an opposite effect. The collagen fibril diameter showed marked variation between individuals. The present study indicates that dynamic in vivo compression at high load and frequency lowers matrix content of COMP in the articular cartilage of the third carpal bone. It also indicates that the collagen network is influenced by mechanical load following by strenuous exercise. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


COMP; Cartilage; Load; Middle carpal bone

Published in

Research in Veterinary Science
2010, Volume: 88, number: 2, pages: 251-257