Indexed on: 07 Oct '21Published on: 19 Dec '19Published in: International journal of molecular sciences
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is an intricate structure composed of the mandibular condyle, articular disc, and glenoid fossa in the temporal bone. Apical condylar cartilage is classified as a secondary cartilage, is fibrocartilaginous in nature, and is structurally distinct from growth plate and articular cartilage in long bones. Condylar cartilage is organized in distinct cellular layers that include a superficial layer that produces lubricants, a polymorphic/progenitor layer that contains stem/progenitor cells, and underlying layers of flattened and hypertrophic chondrocytes. Uniquely, progenitor cells reside near the articular surface, proliferate, undergo chondrogenesis, and mature into hypertrophic chondrocytes. During the past decades, there has been a growing interest in the molecular mechanisms by which the TMJ develops and acquires its unique structural and functional features. Indian hedgehog (Ihh), which regulates skeletal development including synovial joint formation, also plays pivotal roles in TMJ development and postnatal maintenance. This review provides a description of the many important recent advances in Hedgehog (Hh) signaling in TMJ biology. These include studies that used conventional approaches and those that analyzed the phenotype of tissue-specific mouse mutants lacking Ihh or associated molecules. The recent advances in understanding the molecular mechanism regulating TMJ development are impressive and these findings will have major implications for future translational medicine tools to repair and regenerate TMJ congenital anomalies and acquired diseases, such as degenerative damage in TMJ osteoarthritic conditions.