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Dr. med.
H. Jastrow

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Overview hyaline cartilage (Cartilago hyalina):
Pages with explanations are linked to the text below the images if available! (Labelling is in German)
rib cartilage chon-
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drocyte 17 (human)
detail thereof
detail in higher magnification detail of 17
interterritorial substance
rib cartilage (human)
detail thereof in higher
magnification 1
detail thereof in higher
magnification 2 
detail thereof in higher
magnification 3
detail thereof in higher
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detail thereof in higher
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chondroblast 1
nasal septum (rat)
detail of prevoius image chondroblast 2
nasal septum (rat)
2 chondrocytes nasal
septum (rat)
outer area with elongated
cells (Ratte)

The term hyaline cartilage (Terminologia histologica: Cartilago hyalina) derives from the Greek word hyalos (glass) and comprises a solid blue-white supporting tissue.
Hyaline cartilage serves as shock absorbing cartilage of joints in most joints between two bones (diarthroses; exception: sternoclavicular- and temporomandibular joint) or as stabilising cartilage.
Formation and composition:
Chondroblasts (Terminologia histologica: Chondroblasti) show a little more cell organells and their metabolic activity is higher than that of chondrocytes (Terminologia histologica: Chondrocyti) which comprise the vast majority of cartilage cells in hyaline cartilage and are in fact just outgrown chondroblasts with reduced activity. The number of glycogen particles and few small lipid droplets is lower than in chondrocytes. Further, the nuclei of chondroblasts are larger, about spherical with a considerably higher content of euchromatin whereas chondrocyte nuclei are smaller with rather condensed and thus darker chromatin which predominantly is heterochromatin. The lipid droplets may fuse in chondrocytes resulting in larger drops of several µm in diameter. Both cell types contain a notable amount of rough endoplasmic reticulum which partly may be dilated by local aggregations of moderately electron dense proteins, few small Golgi apparatuses with flattened dictyosomes giving raise to tiny secretory vesicles, some mitochondria of the crista-type with a moderate electron-dense matrix and few lysosomes and heterolysosomes. Chondrocytes are ovoid to spherical or even spindle-shaped and contain many free ribosomes as well as accumulations of mainly beta glycogen granules. The cytoplasm of the cells has a high electron density. Some of them continue in few, thin and short cellular processes. Further, vimentin intermediate filaments contribute to the cytoskeleton. The slightly basophilic nuclei usually show several prominent nucleoliCellular metabolism due to low oxygen content of the surrounding matrix caused by long ways for diffusion is anaerobic and glycolytic which is responsible for a high amount of lactic acid secretion into the adjacent matrix.
Chondroclasts (Terminologia histologica: Chondroclasti) are cells which degrade cartilage. They are present at the borders of hyaline cartilage during ossification only. These cells are identical to osteoclasts of bone and odontoclasts which dissolve dentin. They contain several nuclei and are very large with diameters over 25 µm due to the fact that they originate from fusing monocytes. Their cytoplasm is rich in mitochondria of the crista-type with an electron-dense matrix and lysosomes and heterolysosomes. Plenty of cisterns or RER and larger Golgi apparatuses. Cells secrete hydrochloric acid (HCl) which solves calcium from mineralized matrix (in bones). Here in cartilage, however, it is more probable that degrading enzymes which are also secreted by these cells are the major secretion products of chondroclasts.
In case of mature hyaline cartilage all blood vessels and nerve fibres terminate in the perichondrium (Terminologia histologica: Perichondrium). The latter consists of an outer tight fibrous layer (Terminologia histologica: Stratum fibrosum) comprised of woven connective tissue with some rare fibroblasts and plenty of elongate thin fibrocytes. This layer retains tractive power which otherwise would damage the cartilage proper. Deeper, i.e. directly attached to the cartilage the chondrogenic layer (Terminologia histologica: Stratum chondrogenicum) is able to contribute to formation of cartilage in young age.
Cartilage matrix (Terminologia histologica: Matrix cartilaginea)
The intercellular, i.e. extracellular substance around chondrocytes comprises the cartilage matrix. Due to its high content of aggrecan (most important proteoglycan with a half-life time of 5 to ~30 days, consists of ~ 100 chains of chondroitin sulfate + ~30 shorter chains of keratan sulfate) the cartilage matrix, especially in the cartliage capsule, is basophilic. The intercellular substance comprises 70 to 90% of the matrix in hyaline cartilage of which about 70 to 90 (volume percent; %) of the matrix are just water molecules which are bound to the 10 - 30% of organic macromolecules otherwise present.
More details are given in the professional version of this atlas.

--> elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage, connective tissue, resident connective tissue cells, ground substance, elastic-, collagen fibres, bone
--> Electron microscopic atlas Overview
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