Advances in the microscopy of osteoarthritis

D L Gardner, D M Salter, K Oates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review describes recent contributions made by microscopy to the understanding of osteoarthritis, a clinical syndrome the pathological features of which are well defined by classical white light microscopy. The fluorescence and reflected light, conventional and scanning optical microscopy of excised osteoarthritic tissue preparations, from human and animal sources, has enabled the identification of cell proteins such as S100, of matrix components such as the proteoglycans and collagens, and of adhesion molecules including fibronectin, the integrins and tenascin. Comparable microscopic studies have been made of cell and tissue culture preparations of osteoarthritic cartilage and synovium. Scanning optical microscopy also allows the rapid measurement, in hydrated osteoarthritic tissues, of cell density, cell size, surface roughness and other parameters. The importance of water in sustaining the physical attributes of cartilage is accepted and new forms of electron microscopy can play important parts in the study of unfixed osteoarthritic cartilage. These methods include the low temperature scanning electron microscopy and electron probe x-ray microanalysis of hydrated bulk material and the high resolution transmission electron microscopy of low temperature replicas of cartilage surfaces. Understanding of osteoarthritis has been facilitated by these advances and will continue to be enhanced as new techniques of microscopy evolve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-70
Number of pages26
JournalMicroscopy research and technique
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 1997


  • Animals
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rats


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