Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2005Peer reviewedOpen access

Ultrastructural immunolocalization of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) in relation to collagen fibrils in the equine tendon

Sodersten F, Ekman S, Eloranta ML, Heinegard D, Dudhia J, Hultenby K


The structure and organisation of the extracellular matrix, and in particular the axial alignment of type I collagen fibrils, are essential for the tensile strength of tendons. The resident tenocytes synthesize and maintain the composition of the extracellular matrix, which changes with age and maturation. Other components of the extracellular matrix include less abundant collagen types II, III, V, VI, XII, proteoglycans and glycoproteins. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) is an abundant non-collagenous pentameric glycoprotein in the tendon, which can bind to collagen types I and II. The function of COMP in the tendon is not clear, but it may act as a catalyst in fibrillogenesis. Its concentration changes with age, maturation and load. The present study delineates the ultrastructural distribution of COMP and its correlation to collagen fibril thickness in different compartments in two flexor tendons from horses of different ages (foetus, 8 months, 3 years, 12 years). The immunolabeling for COMP was higher in the superficial digital flexor tendon compared with the deep digital flexor tendon and it increased with the age of the animal, with the highest concentration in the 3-year-olds. Fibril diameter differed between age groups and a more homogenous fibril population was found in the fetal tendons. A positive correlation between high COMP immunolabeling and the percentage of small fibrils (<60 nm) were present in the SDFT. COMP immunolabeling was enriched at the gap region of the collagen fibril. In situ hybridization revealed the strongest expression in tendons from the 3-year-old horses whereas there was no expression in foetal tendon. (C) 2005 Elsevier B.V./International Society of Matrix Biology. All rights reserved


Tendon; Equine; COMP; Collagen; Ultrastructure

Published in

Matrix Biology
2005, Volume: 24, number: 5, pages: 376-385 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV

      SLU Authors

        • Eloranta, Maija-Leena

          • Department of Molecular Biosciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Animal and Dairy Science
        Veterinary Science

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)