Histochemistry and Cell Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 291–300 | Cite as

The distribution patterns of COMP and matrilin-3 in septal, alar and triangular cartilages of the human nose

  • Paul Severin WiggenhauserEmail author
  • Silke Schwarz
  • Nicole Rotter
Original Paper


The biomechanical characteristics of septal cartilage depend strongly on the distinct extracellular matrix of cartilage tissue; therefore, it is essential that the components of this matrix are identified and understood. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and matrilin-3 are localised in articular cartilage. This study was the first to examine all subtypes of mature human nasal cartilages (alar, triangular and septal) with specific attention to the distribution of COMP and matrilin-3. Three whole fresh-frozen noses from human donors were dissected, and exemplary biopsies were examined using histochemical staining (haematoxylin and eosin and Alcian blue) and immunohistochemistry (collagen II, COMP and matrilin-3). The following three zones within the nasal cartilage were identified: superficial, intermediate and central. COMP was detected as highest in the intermediate zones in all three subtypes of nasal cartilage, whereas matrilin-3 was detected with pericellular deposition mainly within septal cartilage predominantly in the superficial zones. The distinct staining patterns of COMP and matrilin-3 underscore the different functional roles of both proteins in nasal cartilage. According to the literature, COMP might be involved with collagen II in the formation of networks, whereas matrilin-3 is reported to prevent ossification or regulate mechanosensitivity. The predominant staining observed in septal cartilage suggests matrilin-3’s modulatory role because of its presence in the osteochondral junctional zone and given that the biomechanical load in septal cartilage is different from that in alar or triangular cartilage. In conclusion, COMP and matrilin-3 were detected in mature human nasal cartilage but displayed different staining patterns that might be explained by the functional roles of the respective matrix protein; however, further research is necessary to identify and define the functional aspects of this morphological difference.


Human nasal cartilage Septal cartilage COMP Matrilin-3 Extracellular matrix Zonal distribution pattern 



The authors thank M. Jerg and G. Cudek for excellent technical support. The antibody II-II6B3 was obtained from the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank developed under the auspices of the NICHD and maintained by the University of Iowa, Department of Biological Sciences, Iowa City, USA.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have a conflict of interest to report.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Severin Wiggenhauser
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Silke Schwarz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nicole Rotter
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head and Neck SurgeryUlm University Medical CenterUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Hand, Plastic and Aesthetic SurgeryUniversity Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians UniversityMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyParacelsus Medical UniversityNurembergGermany
  4. 4.Department of Oto-Rhino-LaryngologyUniversity Hospital Mannheim, University of HeidelbergMannheimGermany

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