• Ovidae;
  • Cartilage;
  • Chondroblast;
  • Chondrocyte;
  • Embryonic development;
  • GLUT1;
  • GLUT9;
  • Immunohistochemistry


Glucose transport across the chondrocyte membrane is essential for chondrogenesis and the development of the skeletal system. We have previously used RT—PCR to show that fully developed human articular chondrocytes express transcripts for the GLUT1 and GLUT9 glucose transporters. In this study we report on the expression and immunohistochemical localization of the GLUT1 and GLUT9 proteins in embryonic and mature ovine cartilage. We also provide Western blot evidence for GLUT1 and GLUT9 expression in mature ovine chondrocytes. Ovine embryos (developmental stages E32 to E36 and E42 to E45) were obtained from pregnant ewes humanely killed by injection with sodium pentobarbitone. Embryos were fixed and processed for immunohistochemistry. Polyclonal antibodies to GLUT1 and GLUT9 revealed that both transporters are expressed in developing chondrocytes in ovine embryos and in the superficial, middle and deep layers of ovine cartilage from mature animals. GLUT1 expression was observed in erythrocytes and organs including heart, liver, and kidney. GLUT9 was also found in heart, kidney and liver. Western blotting confirmed the presence of the GLUT1 protein which migrated between the 50 and 64 kDa markers and two specific GLUT9 bands migrating under the 50 and 60 kDa markers, respectively. The presence of GLUT1 and GLUT9 in developing joints of ovine embryos suggests that these proteins may be important in glucose delivery to developing chondroblasts. Expression of these GLUT isoforms may be an important bioenergetic adaptation for chondrocytes in the extracellular matrix of developing cartilage.