Punch biopsies of bovine hip articular cartilage was sectioned according to depth and the proteoglycans were isolated. The mid-sections of the cartilage contained more proteoglycans than did either the superficial or the deepest portions of the cartilage proteoglycans than did either the superficial or the deepest portions of the cartilage. The most superficial 40 micrometer of the cartilage contained relatively more glucosaminoglycans compared with the remainder of the cartilage. The proteoglycans recovered from the surface 200 micrometer layer contained less chondroitin sulphate, were smaller and almost all of these molecules were able to interact with hyaluronic acid to form aggregates. From about 200 micrometer and down to 1040 micrometer from the surface, the proteoglycans became gradually somewhat smaller, probably owing to decreasing size of the chondroitin sulphate-rich region. The proportion of molecules that were able to interact with the hyaluronic acid was about 90% and remained constant with depth. The proteoglycans from the deepest layer near the cartilage-bone junction contained a large proportion of non-aggregating molecules, and the average size of the proteoglycans was somewhat larger. The alterations of proteoglycan structure observed with increasing depth of the articular cartilage beneath the surface layer (to 200 micrometer) are of the same nature as those observed with increasing age in full-thickness articular cartilage. The articular-cartilage proteoglycans were smaller and had much higher keratan sulphate and protein contents that did molecules isolated from bovine nasal or tracheal cartilage.

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