Mitotic activity in the growing red deer antler

Authors

  • Jessica Matich,

    1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Thomas Building, 3A Symonds Street, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • Louise Frances Basford Nicholson,

    1. Anatomy with Radiology, School of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Auckland, New Zealand
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  • Peter Michael Barling

    Corresponding author
    1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Thomas Building, 3A Symonds Street, Auckland, New Zealand
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Corresponding author. Tel.: +64-9-3737-599x88229; fax: +64-9-3737-414. p.barling@auckland.ac.nz

Abstract

Antlers grow rapidly through the coordinated development of both osseocartilage and skin (velvet). The regional patterns of cell division in these two compartments were assessed by immunochemical detection of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in antlers from one-year-old red deer. The whole antler integument was in a state of growth and/or renewal, particularly the keratinocytes of the basal cell layer of the epidermis near the tip, and hair bulbs and sebaceous glands. More proximally, a zone of weaker mitotic activity was detected. Within the osseocartilagenous compartment, rapid mitosis was particularly apparent within the distal mesenchyme, visible as a dome-shaped band of staining. Mitotic activity of chondrocytes and osteoblasts was more extensive in peripheral areas of developing bone than in the centre. We conclude that the antler tip is the site of most active epidermal growth, and hypothesise that other mechanisms in addition to mechanical stretching play a role in growth of the integument.

Ancillary