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Visualising the 3D microstructure of stained and native intervertebral discs using X-ray microtomography

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-16354-w DOI Help

Authors: C. M. Disney (University of Manchester) , K. Madi (University of Manchester) , A. J. Bodey (Diamond Light Source) , P. D. Lee (University of Manchester) , J. A. Hoyland (University of Manchester) , M. J. Sherratt (University of Manchester)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Scientific Reports , VOL 7

State: Published (Approved)
Published: November 2017
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 12776

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: Intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) is linked to low back pain. Microstructural changes during degeneration have previously been imaged using 2D sectioning techniques and 3D methods which are limited to small specimens and prone to inducing artefacts from sample preparation. This study explores micro computed X-ray tomography (microCT) methods with the aim of resolving IVD 3D microstructure whilst minimising sample preparation artefacts. Low X-ray absorption contrast in non-mineralised tissue can be enhanced using staining and phase contrast techniques. A step-wise approach, including comparing three stains, was used to develop microCT for bovine tail IVD using laboratory and synchrotron sources. Staining successfully contrasted collagenous structures; however not all regions were stained and the procedure induced macroscopic structural changes. Phase contrast microCT of chemically fixed yet unstained samples resolved the nucleus pulposus, annulus fibrosus and constituent lamellae, and finer structures including collagen bundles and cross-bridges. Using the same imaging methods native tissue scans were of slightly lower contrast but free from sample processing artefacts. In the future these methods may be used to characterise structural remodelling in soft (non-calcified) tissues and to conduct in situ studies of native loaded tissues and constructs to characterise their 3D mechanical properties.

Journal Keywords: Cartilage; X-ray tomography

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials, Medicine

Instruments: I13-2-Diamond Manchester Imaging