• temporomandibular joint;
  • synovial membrane;
  • aging;
  • microscopy, electron


The aim of this study was to analyze the rat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) synovial membrane at different ages using light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy. Under light microscopic analysis, the TMJ structures were observed such as condyle, capsule, disk, the synovial membrane collagen type, and cells distribution. In the scanning electron microscopy, the synovial membrane surface exhibited a smooth aspect in young animals and there was an increase with ageing in the number of folds. The transmission electron microscopic analysis showed more synoviocytes in the synovial layer in the young group and still a great number of vesicles and cisterns dilation of rough endoplasmic reticulum in the aged group. In the three groups, a dense layer of collagen fibers in the synovial layer and cytoplasmic extensions were clearly seen. It was possible to conclude that synovial membrane structures in aged group showed alterations contributing to the decrease in joint lubrication and in the sliding between disk and joint surfaces. These characteristic will reflect in biomechanics of chewing, and may cause the TMJ disorders, currently observed in clinical processes. Microsc. Res. Tech. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.