Decorin expression, straw-like structure, and differentiation of human costal cartilage

M. W. Stacey, J. Grubbs, A. Asmar, J. Pryor, H. Elsayed-Ali, W. Cao, A. Beskok, D. Dutta, D. A. Darby, A. Fecteau, A. Werner, R. E. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Costal cartilage is much understudied compared with the load-bearing cartilages. Abnormally grown costal cartilages are associated with the inherited chest wall deformities pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum resulting in sunken and pigeon chests, respectively. A lack of understanding of the ultrastructural and molecular biology of costal cartilage is a major confounder in predicting causes and outcomes of these disorders. This study analyzed the structure of marginal human costal cartilage (ribs 610) through scanning electron and atomic force microscopes and identified the presence of straw-like structures running longitudinally. We also demonstrated that chondrocytes tend to occur singly or as doublets and that centrally located cells produce high levels of aggrecan compared with more peripherally located cells measured using immunohistochemistry. Gene expression from mRNA extracted from cartilage showed high levels of decorin expression, likely associated with the large, complex tubular structures running through this cartilage type. COL2A1, ACAN, and TIMP1 also showed higher levels of expression compared with ACTB. Analysis of gene expression ratios demonstrate that costal cartilage is under differentiated compared with published ratios for articular cartilage, likely due to the vastly different biomechanical environments of each cartilage type. Further studies need to establish whether findings described here from the costal margins are significantly different than the cartilage of the "true ribs" and how these values change with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-421
Number of pages7
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • AFM
  • Chest wall deformities
  • Connective tissue
  • Gene ratio
  • Pectus carinatum
  • SLRPs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Decorin expression, straw-like structure, and differentiation of human costal cartilage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this