The elastin network: its relationship with collagen and cells in articular cartilage as visualized by multiphoton microscopy.
Mansfield J., Yu J., Attenburrow D., Moger J., Tirlapur U., Urban J., Cui Z., Winlove P.
A combination of two-photon fluorescence (TPF), second harmonic generation (SHG) and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) imaging has been used to investigate the elastin fibre network in healthy equine articular cartilage from the metacarpophalangeal joint. The elastin fibres were identified using their intrinsic two-photon fluorescence and immuno-staining was used to confirm the identity of these fibres. SHG was used to reveal the collagen matrix and the collagen fibre orientations were determined from their SHG polarization sensitivity, while CARS was used to clearly delineate the cell boundaries. Extensive elastin fibre networks were found in all the joint regions investigated. The elastin was found predominantly in the superficial zone (upper 50 microm) and was aligned parallel to the articular surface. Elastin was also detected in the pericellular matrix surrounding the superficial chondrocytes; however, individual fibres could not be resolved in this region. Variations in the density and organization of the fibres were observed in different regions on the joint surface.