Imaging techniques for quantifying changes in the hierarchical structure of deforming joints are constrained by destructive sample treatments, sample-size restrictions and lengthy scan times. Here, we report the use of fast low-dose pink-beam synchrotron X-ray tomography in combination with mechanical loading at nanometric precision for in situ imaging, at resolutions below 100 nm, of the mechanical strain in intact untreated joints under physiologically realistic conditions. We show that in young, older and osteoarthritic mice, hierarchical changes in tissue structure and mechanical behaviour can be simultaneously visualized, and that the tissue structure at the cellular level correlates with the mechanical performance of the whole joint. We also use the tomographic approach to study the colocalization of tissue strains to specific chondrocyte lacunar organizations within intact loaded joints and to explore the role of calcified-cartilage stiffness on the biomechanics of healthy and pathological joints.
|Journal||Nature biomedical engineering|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Nov 2019|