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Abstract

The short-term and long-term effects on the growth zone in articular cartilage of transforming growth factor-β1 and platelet-derived growth factor-BB injected intraarticularly into the knee joint of growing rats were investigated. The changes induced by five injections of 0.5 μg of transforming growth factor-β1 included a rapid decrease in the size and number of hypertrophic cells and an enhanced subchondral bone formation. The changes were most marked in the patella but were also apparent in the tibia and femur. The proliferating cells became swollen and lost their normal organization. From the seventh day of the experiment to about 3 weeks, the matrix stained intensely with safranin O for proteoglycans. The alterations induced by transforming growth factor-β also included synovial fibroplasia and synovitis, consisting predominantly of mononuclear cells. Localised necroses in the cartilage sometimes appeared after 21 days. In long-term studies, destroyed cartilage was found in three of six rats and partial ossification of the joint cartilage was found in two after 90 and 180 days. Ossicles developed in the tendons in all six patellae. Injection of platelet-derived growth factor-BB resulted in an early and transitory minor increase in the osteogenic activity in the zone between cartilage and red bone marrow and later produced an ossicle in one of four tendons. None of the other changes noted after injection of transforming growth factor was observed.