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Overgrowth of limbs and spinal deformities are typical clinical manifestations of Marfan syndrome (MFS) and congenital contractural arachnodactyly (CCA), caused by mutations of the genes encoding fibrillin-1 (FBN1) and fibrillin-2 (FBN2), respectively. FBN1 mutations are also associated with acromicric (AD) and geleophysic dysplasias (GD), and with Weill-Marchesani syndrome (WMS), which is characterised by short stature. The mechanisms leading to such abnormal skeletal growth and the involvement of the fibrillins are not understood. Postnatal longitudinal bone growth mainly occurs in the epiphyseal growth plate. Here we investigated the organisation of fibrillin microfibrils in the growth plate of the long bone and vertebra immunohistochemically. Fibrillin-1 was dual-immunostained with elastin, with fibrillin-2 or with collagen X. We report that fibrillin microfibrils are distributed throughout all regions of the growth plate, and that fibrillin-1 and fibrillin-2 were differentially organised. Fibrillin-1 was more abundant in the extracellular matrix of the resting and proliferative zones of the growth plate than in the hypertrophic zone. More fibrillin-2 was found in the calcified region than in the other regions. No elastin fibres were observed in either the proliferative or hypertrophic zones. This study indicates that, as fibrillin microfibrils are involved in growth factor binding and may play a mechanical role, they could be directly involved in regulating bone growth. Hence, mutations of the fibrillins could affect their functional role in growth and lead to the growth disorders seen in patients with MFS, CCA, AD, GD and WMS.

Original publication




Journal article


J Anat

Publication Date





641 - 650


Marfan syndrome, Weill-Marchesani syndrome, congenital contractural arachnodactyly, elastin, epiphyseal growth plate, fibrillin-1, fibrillin-2, Animals, Cattle, Collagen, Elastin, Fibrillins, Growth Plate, Immunohistochemistry, Metacarpal Bones, Microfibrils, Microfilament Proteins, Spine