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Cartilage and Bone as Target Tissues for Toxic Materials

Target Organ and Tissue Toxicity

  1. Alan B.G. Lansdown1,2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat071

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Lansdown, A. B. 2009. Cartilage and Bone as Target Tissues for Toxic Materials. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Honorary Research Fellow in Chemical Pathology, Division of Investigative Science, Banstead, Surrey

  2. 2

    Imperial College, Faculty of Medicine, London, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Bone and cartilage are important in providing functional rigidity to the body, but have central function in modulating mineral metabolism in the body. Both tissues are subject to toxic and genetically determined influences on mucopolysaccharide (ground substance) synthesis, hormonal changes and defects in mineral homeostasis. In prenatal development, skeletal development is sensitive to abnormalities in the intrauterine environment and in the availability of S-amino acids, trace metals and vitamin balances. Animal models have provided beneficial information on mechanisms of teratogenesis involving cartilage and bone, notably on the action of salicylates and hypervitaminosis, both of which involve impairment in mucopolysaccharide synthesis, ossification and osteoclast activity. Toxic changes in adult skeletal tissues are largely associated with functional impairment of bone as a source of minerals—calcium, phosphate, zinc, and so on, and the property of calcium hydroxyapatite to bind xenobiotic cations including lead and cadmium with no trace metal nutrient value. Toxic changes range from osteoporosis, and impairment in bone strength and functional capacity. Radioactive bone-seeking metals including 90Sr are a potential cause of bone tumours. Much remains to be understood concerning the interaction between the calcium-binding capacity of hydroxyapatite and the putative nutritional importance of silicon and strontium. Further studies are needed to investigate the cytotoxic action of lead and cadmium in bone and cartilage and to understand the implication of chronic exposure to low levels of these and toxic metals on bone structure and function.


  • cartilage;
  • chondrogenesis;
  • bone;
  • ossification;
  • trace metals, calcium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium;
  • heavy metals, lead, aluminium, silver;
  • phosphate, fluoride;
  • vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, ascorbic acid;
  • hydroxyapatite;
  • osteodystrophy