A team at University of Sheffield in the UK report on a non-invasive way to discriminate between connective tissue types based on differences in their angle-resolved light scattering properties in “Comparative study of the angle-resolved backscattering properties of collagen fibers in bovine tendon and cartilage.”
The recommended paper in the Journal of Biomedical Optics discusses a technique related to angle-resolved low coherence interferometry (aLCI), which has recently shown potential in discriminating between normal and precancerous cells, based on the fact that the angular pattern of light scattering varies with the size of the cell nucleus.
Team leader Stephen Matcher says angle-resolved OCT and aLCI “clearly have the potential to give improved information on the morphology of the cellular components of tissue.”
The team compared the light backscattering properties of two collagen-rich connective tissues ex-vivo, namely bovine articular cartilage and bovine tendon. Cartilage contains fine type-II collagen fibrils whereas tendon contains larger and more directionally aligned type-I collagen fibers.
Varying the angle of the incident light beam from 0 degrees to 40 degrees from the normal, the workers found that whereas the cartilage backscatter decreased by only x2, the tendon backscatter fell by nearly x50, providing a very strong discrimination between these connective tissue types.
“Orthopedic surgeons regularly inspect the surface of the articular cartilage using video arthroscopy to try to detect surface degenerative changes,” Matcher says.
“Angle-resolved OCT could potentially reveal early subsurface changes that occur during degeneration such as the replacement of hyaline cartilage, dominated by type-II collagen, with fibrous repair tissue dominated by type-I collagen. In-situ monitoring of tendon repair might also benefit.”
–Ruikang K. Wang (Editorial Advisory Board) recommends: http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.3606564
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