Fibroblast growth factor expression in the postnatal growth plate

Jacob E. Lazarus, Anita Hegde, Anenisia C. Andrade, Ola Nilsson, Jeffrey Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling is essential for endochondral bone formation. Mutations cause skeletal dysplasias including achondroplasia, the most common human skeletal dysplasia. Most previous work in this area has focused on embryonic chondrogenesis. To explore the role of FGF signaling in the postnatal growth plate, we quantitated expression of FGFs and FGF receptors (FGFRs) and examined both their spatial and temporal regulation. Toward this aim, rat proximal tibial growth plates and surrounding tissues were microdissected, and specific mRNAs were quantitated by real-time RT-PCR. To assess the FGF system without bias, we first screened for expression of all known FGFs and major FGFR isoforms. Perichondrium expressed FGFs 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, and 18 and, at lower levels, FGFs 21 and 22. Growth plate expressed FGFs 2, 7, 18, and 22. Perichondrial expression was generally greater than growth plate expression, supporting the concept that perichondrial FGFs regulate growth plate chondrogenesis. Nevertheless, FGFs synthesized by growth plate chondrocytes may be physiologically important because of their proximity to target receptors. In growth plate, we found expression of FGFRs 1, 2, and 3, primarily, but not exclusively, the c isoforms. FGFRs 1 and 3, thought to negatively regulate chondrogenesis, were expressed at greater levels and at later stages of chondrocyte differentiation, with FGFR1 upregulated in the hypertrophic zone and FGFR3 upregulated in both proliferative and hypertrophic zones. In contrast, FGFRs 2 and 4, putative positive regulators, were expressed at earlier stages of differentiation, with FGFR2 upregulated in the resting zone and FGFR4 in the resting and proliferative zones. FGFRL1, a presumed decoy receptor, was expressed in the resting zone. With increasing age and decreasing growth velocity, FGFR2 and 4 expression was downregulated in proliferative zone. Perichondrial FGF1, FGF7, FGF18, and FGF22 were upregulated. In summary, we have analyzed the expression of all known FGFs and FGFRs in the postnatal growth plate using a method that is quantitative and highly sensitive. This approach identified ligands and receptors not previously known to be expressed in growth plate and revealed a complex pattern of spatial regulation of FGFs and FGFRs in the different zones of the growth plate. We also found temporal changes in FGF and FGFR expression which may contribute to growth plate senescence and thus help determine the size of the adult skeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-586
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Chondrocyte
  • FGF
  • FGFR
  • Growth plate
  • Senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology
  • Physiology


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