Mechanisms of synovial joint and articular cartilage development

Ryota Chijimatsu, Taku Saito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Articular cartilage is formed at the end of epiphyses in the synovial joint cavity and permanently contributes to the smooth movement of synovial joints. Most skeletal elements develop from transient cartilage by a biological process known as endochondral ossification. Accumulating evidence indicates that articular and growth plate cartilage are derived from different cell sources and that different molecules and signaling pathways regulate these two kinds of cartilage. As the first sign of joint development, the interzone emerges at the presumptive joint site within a pre-cartilage tissue. After that, joint cavitation occurs in the center of the interzone, and the cells in the interzone and its surroundings gradually form articular cartilage and the synovial joint. During joint development, the interzone cells continuously migrate out to the epiphyseal cartilage and the surrounding cells influx into the joint region. These complicated phenomena are regulated by various molecules and signaling pathways, including GDF5, Wnt, IHH, PTHrP, BMP, TGF-β, and FGF. Here, we summarize current literature and discuss the molecular mechanisms underlying joint formation and articular development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3939-3952
Number of pages14
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Articular cartilage
  • Chondrocyte
  • Interzone
  • Joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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