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Ultrastructural localization of alpha-parvalbumin in the epiphyseal plate cartilage and bone of growing rats.

Toury R., Belqasmi F., Hauchecorne M., Heizmann C.W., Balmain N.

The distribution of the calcium-binding protein, alpha-parvalbumin, in the epiphyseal plate cartilage and bone of growing rats was examined by electron microscope immunocytochemistry of undecalcified samples. Parvalbumin immunoreactivity, as revealed by gold particles, increased with maturation of chondrocytes and was maximal in the zone of calcification. It was found in the cytoplasm of chondrocytes, osteoblasts and osteocytes, corroborating light microscope observations. The immunolabeling was associated with amorphous electron-dense material in the cytoplasm and not bound to membranes. There was moderate parvalbumin immunolabeling over the dense chromatin in the nuclei of chondrocytes and bone cells, but none in the cell processes of mature and hypertrophic chondrocytes, in the matrix vesicles themselves, or in the cell processes of osteoblasts. However, there was parvalbumin immunoreactivity in the cell processes of the osteocytes of compact cortical bone. The uncalcified and calcified matrix of the epiphyseal cartilage, the osteoid, and the fully mineralized cortical bone were devoid of parvalbumin immunoreactivity. Thus, immunoreactive parvalbumin is confined to the cell bodies of chondrocytes and osteoblasts, and is unlikely to be directly involved in mineral deposition. The maximal parvalbumin immunoreactivity in the last terminal chondrocytes of the zone of calcification suggests that the protein is involved in buffering intracellular Ca2+, preventing the stimulation of degenerative processes by high intracellular calcium. The parvalbumin immunoreactivity in the cell processes of osteocytes of compact cortical bone seems to indicate that this calcium-binding protein may be involved in the regulation of Ca2+ fluxes and hence in calcium homeostasis in bone.

Bone 19:245-253(1996) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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