Matrix vesicles are carriers of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and noncollagenous matrix proteins.
Matrix vesicles (MVs) are well positioned in the growth plate to serve as a carrier of morphogenetic information to nearby chondrocytes and osteoblasts. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) carried in MVs could promote differentiation of these skeletal cells. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in MVs could stimulate angiogenesis. Therefore, a study was undertaken to confirm the presence of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-1 through-7, VEGF, and the noncollagenous matrix proteins, bone sialoprotein (BSP), osteopontin (OPN), osteocalcin (OC), and osteonectin (ON) in isolated rat growth plate MVs. MVs were isolated from collagenase-digested rachitic rat tibial and femoral growth plates. The presence of BMP-1 through BMP-7, VEGF, BSP, ON, OPN, and OC was evaluated by Western blot, plus ELISA analyses for BMP-2 and-4 content. The alkaline phosphatase-raising ability of MV extracts on cultured rat growth plate chondrocytes was measured as a reflection of MV ability to promote chondroosseous differentiation. BMP-1 through-7, VEGF, BSP, ON, OPN, and OC were all detected by Western blot analyses. Chondrocytes treated with MV extracts showed a two-to threefold increase in alkaline phosphatase activity over control, indicating increased differentiation. Significant amounts of BMP-2 and BMP-4 were detected in MVs by ELISA. Combined, these data suggest that MVs could play an important morphogenetic role in growth plate and endochondral bone formation.