Functional Differences Between Growth Plate Apoptotic Bodies and Matrix Vesicles

Thorsten Kirsch, Wei Wang, David Pfander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mineralization often occurs in areas of apoptotic changes. Our findings indicate that physiological mineralization is mediated by matrix vesicles. These matrix vesicles use mechanisms to induce mineralization that are different from the mechanisms used by apoptotic bodies released from apoptotic cells. Therefore, different therapeutic approaches must be chosen to inhibit pathological mineralization depending on the mechanism of mineralization (matrix vesicles versus apoptotic bodies). Introduction: Physiological mineralization in growth plate cartilage is restricted to regions of terminally differentiated and apoptotic chondrocytes. Pathological mineralization of tissues also often occurs in areas of apoptosis. We addressed the question of whether apoptotic changes control mineralization events or whether both events are regulated independently. Methods: To induce mineralization, we treated growth plate chondrocytes with retinoic acid (RA); apoptosis in these cells was induced by treatment with staurosporine, anti-Fas, or TNFα. The degrees of mineralization and apoptosis were determined, and the structure and function of matrix vesicles and apoptotic bodies were compared. Results: Release of matrix vesicles and mineralization in vivo in the growth plate occurs earlier than do apoptotic changes. To determine the functional relationship between apoptotic bodies and matrix vesicles, growth plate chondrocytes were treated with RA to induce matrix vesicle release and with staurosporine to induce release of apoptotic bodies. After 3 days, approximately 90% of staurosporine-treated chondrocytes were apoptotic, whereas only 2-4% of RA-treated cells showed apoptotic changes. RA- and staurosporine-treated chondrocyte cultures were mineralized after 3 days. Matrix vesicles isolated from RA-treated cultures and apoptotic bodies isolated from staurosporine-treated cultures were associated with calcium and phosphate. However, matrix vesicles were bigger than apoptotic bodies. Furthermore, matrix vesicles but not apoptotic bodies contained alkaline phosphatase and Ca 2+ channel-forming annexins II, V, and VI. Consequently, matrix vesicles but not apoptotic bodies were able to take up Ca2+ and form the first mineral phase inside their lumen. Mineralization of RA-treated cultures was inhibited by antibodies specific for annexin V but not mineralization of staurosporine-treated cultures. Conclusion: Physiological mineralization of growth plate chondrocytes is initiated by specialized matrix vesicles and requires alkaline phosphatase and annexins. In contrast, mineral formation mediated by apoptotic bodies occurs by a default mechanism and does not require alkaline phosphatase and annexins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1872-1881
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Annexin
  • Apoptotic bodies
  • Growth plate chondrocytes
  • Matrix vesicles
  • Mineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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