Cyclic AMP content in embryonic chick pelvic cartilage increases significantly as the embryo ages from 8 to 10 d. This in ovo elevation in cyclic AMP content precedes maximal cartilage alkaline phosphatase activity by some 24 h. We studied whether this temporal relationship may be causally related, using an in vitro organ culture. Incubation of pelvic cartilage from 9- and 10-d embryos in medium containing monobutyryl cyclic AMP (BtcAMP) resulted in significant increases in alkaline phosphatase activity (220 and 66 percent, respectively) as compared to that of cartilages incubated in medium alone. This stimulation was both concentration- and time-dependent with maximal response at 0.5 mM BtcAMP and 4-h incubation, respectively. Similar incubations of cartilage in medium containing 1-methyl-3-isobutyl xanthine (MIX), 0.25 mM, also resulted in increased alkaline phosphatase activity (114 percent). However, pelvic cartilage from 11-d embryos incubated in medium containing BtcAMP or MIX showed no increase in alkaline phosphatase activity. We postulated that developmental age was the factor responsible for this difference in response and that immature cartilage (that with little or no alkaline phosphatase activity) would respond to BtcAMP whereas mature cartilage (that with significant alkaline phosphatase activity) would not. This was tested by incubating end sections of 11-d cartilage, which have little alkaline phosphatase activity, and center sections, which have significantly alkaline phosphatase activity, with both BtcAMP and MIX. Alkaline phosphatase activity in end sections (immature cartilage) was stimulated by BtcAMP and MIX, whereas it was not stimulated in the center sections. Actinomycin D and cycloheximide inhibited BtcAMP and MIX stimulation of alkaline phosphatase activity. Thus, the in vitro data suggest that cyclic AMP is a mediator for the stimulation of alkaline phosphatase activity in embryonic cartilage.

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