The study of optical properties and proteoglycan content of tendons by PS-OCT

Ying Yang, Asha Rupani, Alan Weightman, Ian Wimpenny, Pierre Bagnaninchi, Mark Ahearne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Tendons are load-bearing collagenous tissues consisting mainly of type I collagen and various proteoglycans (PGs) including decorin and versican. It is widely accepted that highly orientated collagen fibers in tendons a play critical role for transferring tensile stress and demonstrate birefringent optical properties. However, the influence that proteoglycans have on the optical properties of tendons is yet to be fully elucidated. Tendinopathy (defined as a syndrome of tendon pain, tenderness and swelling that affects the normal function of the tissue) is a common disease associated with sporting injuries or degeneration. PG's are the essential components of the tendon extracellular matrix; changes in their quantities and compositions have been associated with tendinopathy. In this study, polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) has been used to reveal the relationship between proteoglycan content/location and birefringent properties of tendons. Tendons dissected from freshly slaughtered chickens were imaged at regular intervals by PS-OCT and polarizing light microscope during the extraction of PGs or glycosaminoglycans using established protocols (guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) or proteinase K solution). The macroscopic and microscopic time lapsed images are complimentary; mutually demonstrating that there was a higher concentration of PG's in the outer sheath region than in the fascicles; and the integrity of the sheath affected extraction process and the OCT birefringence bands. Extraction of PGs using GuHCl disturbed the organization of local collagen bundles, which corresponded to a reduction in the frequency of birefringence bands and the band width by PS-OCT. The feature of OCT penetration depth helped us to define the heterogeneous distribution of PG's in tendon, which was complimented by polarizing light microscopy. The results provide new insight of tendon structure and also demonstrate a great potential for using PS-OCT as a diagnostic tool to examine tendon pathology.

Original languageEnglish
EditorsVV Tuchin, DD Duncan, KV Larin, MJ Leahy, RK Wang
Place of PublicationBELLINGHAM
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)978-0-8194-8435-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventConference on the Dynamics and Fluctuations in Biomedical Photonics VIII - San Francisco
Duration: 22 Jan 201124 Jan 2011


ConferenceConference on the Dynamics and Fluctuations in Biomedical Photonics VIII
CitySan Francisco

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • tendon
  • proteoglycan
  • PS-OCT
  • polarizing light microscopy
  • interfibrillar connections


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