Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 207–215 | Cite as

The tidemark of the chondro-osseous junction of the normal human knee joint

  • T.J. Lyons
  • R.W. Stoddart
  • S.F. McClure
  • J. McClure


The chondro-osseous junction includes the junction between calcified and non-calcified cartilage matrices often referred to as the tidemark. A detailed knowledge of the structure, function and pathophysiology of the chondro-osseous junction is essential for an understanding both of the normal elongation of bones and of the pathogenesis of osteoarthrosis. In this study the molecular anatomy of the tidemark was studied using histochemical techniques, including lectin histochemistry, on blocks of normal cartilage from human knee joints. The tidemark stained with H&E, picro-sirius red, toluidine blue, safranin O and methyl green, but not with alcian blue in the presence of magnesium chloride at 0.05 M or above. It stained with only four lectins, those from Datura stramonium, Maclura pomifera, Erythrina crystagalli and Helix pomatia, out of the 19 used. Therefore, it is rich in collagen and contains hyaluronan, but appears to lack the glycosaminoglycans of ‘conventional’ proteoglycans and it expresses a very limited and distinctive lectin staining glycoprofile, which is probably attributable to specific glycoproteins. In addition, the tidemark had a distinct microanatomical trilaminate appearance. From all of these results it is clear that this part of the chondro-osseous junctional region is chemically more complex and distinctive than has previously been described.


Hyaluronan Toluidine Blue Alcian Blue Safranin Magnesium Chloride 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • T.J. Lyons
    • 1
  • R.W. Stoddart
    • 2
  • S.F. McClure
    • 2
  • J. McClure
    • 3
  1. 1.Newcastle Department of Forensic MedicineAustralia
  2. 2.Division of Laboratory and Regenerative Medicine, The Medical SchoolThe University of ManchesterUK
  3. 3.Department of Musculoskeletal PathologyThe RJAH NHS Orthopaedic TrustShropshireUK

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