Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Christopher Osgood

Committee Director

Michael Stacey

Committee Member

Emilia Oleszak

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 A7 2013


Costal cartilage is a type of hyaline cartilage that forms rod-like structures that connect the ribs to the sternum. Deformation of costal cartilage is observed in the chest wall deformities, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum. Pectus excavatum involves a sternal displacement causing a depression of the chest while pectus carinatum causes a protrusion of the chest. As costal cartilage is not a widely studied tissue, this leaves little knowledge into possible factors involved in the pathogenesis of pectus deformities. Costal cartilage in these deformities has been described as being weakened and may implicate proteoglycans which play an important role in the structure and maintenance of the extracellular matrix. This study focused on the major proteoglycans aggrecan, biglycan, and decorin. Immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis of these proteoglycans was performed on costal cartilage from patients with pectus deformities along with an age-matched control. Western blotting was also performed on normal costal cartilage from fetal, adolescent, and adult tissue to observe any changes in relation to age. We demonstrated that aggrecan forms distinct patterns of localization. Western blot analysis of biglycan and decorin indicated that these proteoglycans exist in a proform and mature form of different sizes likely based on varied N-glycanation. Both forms of biglycan and prodecorin were present in fetal. adolescent, and adult tissue while mature decorin was present in adolescent and adult tissue suggesting biglycan has a greater role in early costal cartilage development. Immunohistochemistry of biglycan and decorin showed both proteoglycans localized in the territorial matrix but not the interterritorial matrix and may be indicative of an alternative method of collagen organization or hindered visualization caused by the formation of large collagen "nanostraws." Further studies will be performed to establish the functional differences of the different glycanated forms of biglycan and decorin as well as their inclusion in collagen fibrils.


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