Mech Dev 2012 Jul 8;129(5-8):162-76. Epub 2012 May 8.
Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Division of Clinical and Functional Anatomy, Innsbruck Medical University, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
Tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) was shown to be critical for skeleton development, and TRAP deficiency leads to a reduced resorptive activity during endochondral ossification resulting in an osteopetrotic phenotype and shortened long bones in adult mice. A proper longitudinal growth depends on a timely, well-coordinated vascularization and formation of the secondary ossification center (SOC) of the long bones epiphysis. Our results demonstrate that TRAP is not essential for the formation of the epiphyseal vascular network. Therefore, in wild type (Wt) controls as well as TRAP deficient (TRAP(-/-)) mutants vascularised cartilage canals are present from postnatal day (P) five. However, in the epiphysis of the TRAP(-/-) mice cartilage mineralization, formation of the marrow cavity and the SOC occur prematurely compared with the controls. In the mutant mice the entire growth plate is widened due to an expansion of the hypertrophic zone. This is not seen in younger animals but first detected at week (W) three and during further development. Moreover, an enhanced number of thickened trabeculae, indicative of the osteopetrotic phenotype, are observed in the metaphysis beginning with W three. Epiphyseal excavation was proposed as an important function of TRAP, and we examined whether TRAP deficiency affects this process. We therefore evaluated the marrow cavity volume (MCV) and the epiphyseal volume (EV) and computed the MCV to EV ratio (MCV/EV). We investigated developmental stages until W 12. Our results indicate that both epiphyseal excavation and establishment of the SOC are hardly impaired in the knockouts. Furthermore, no differences in the morphology of the epiphyseal bone trabeculae and remodeling of the articular cartilage layers are noted between Wt and TRAP(-/-) mice. We conclude that in long bones, TRAP is critical for the development of the growth plate and the metaphysis but apparently not for the epiphyseal vascularization, excavation, and establishment of the SOC.