What can biophotonics tell us about the 3D microstructure of articular cartilage?

Stephen J. Matcher


Connective tissues such as articular cartilage have been the subject of study using novel optical techniques almost since the invention of polarized light microscopy (PLM). Early studies of polarized light micrographs were the main evidential basis for the establishment of quantitative models of articular cartilage collagen structure by Benninghoff and others. Even now, state of the art optical techniques including quantitative polarized light microscopy (qPLM), optical coherence tomography (OCT), polarizationsensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT), second harmonic generation (SHG) microscopy, Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) microscopy, Raman and optical hyperspectral reflectance and fluorescence imaging are providing new insights into articular cartilage structure from the nanoscale through to the mesoscale. New insights are promised by emerging modalities such as optical elastography. This short review highlights some key recent results from modern optical techniques.