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Damage and degradation of articular cartilage leads to severe pain and loss of mobility. The development of new therapies for cartilage regeneration for monitoring their effect requires further study of cartilage, ideally at a molecular level and in a minimally invasive way. Hyperspectral microscopy is a novel technology which utilises endogenous fluorophores to non-invasively assess the molecular composition of cells and tissue. In this study, we applied hyperspectral microscopy to healthy bovine articular cartilage and osteoarthritic human articular cartilage to investigate its capacity to generate informative molecular data and characterise disease state and treatment effects. We successfully demonstrated label-free fluorescence identification of collagen type I and II – isolated in cartilage here for the first time and the co-enzymes free NADH and FAD which together give the optical redox ratio that is an important measure of metabolic activity. The intracellular composition of chondrocytes was also examined. Differences were observed in the molecular ratios within the superficial and transitional zones of the articular cartilage which appeared to be influenced by disease state and treatment. These findings show that hyperspectral microscopy could be useful for investigating the molecular underpinnings of articular cartilage degradation and repair. As it is non-invasive and non-destructive, samples can be repeatedly assessed over time, enabling true time-course experiments with in-depth molecular data. Additionally, there is potential for the hyperspectral approach to be adapted for patient examination to allow the investigation of cartilage state. This could be of advantage for assessment and diagnosis as well as treatment monitoring.
Bibliographical noteCopyright Te Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
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