Research by the OSU College of Engineering's Brian Bay and scientists from the Royal Veterinary College in London and University College London developed a sophisticated scanning technique to view the "loaded" joints of arthritic and healthy mice - loaded means under strain, such as an ankle, knee or elbow would be while running, walking, throwing, etc.
"Imaging techniques for quantifying changes in arthritic joints have been constrained by a number of factors," said Bay, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "Restrictions on sample size and the length of scanning time are two of them, and the level of radiation used in some of the techniques ultimately damages or destroys the samples being scanned. Nanoscale resolution of intact, loaded joints had been considered unattainable."
Bay and a collaboration that also included scientists from 3Dmagination Ltd (UK), Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Manchester, the Research Complex at Harwell and the Diamond Light Source developed a way to conduct nanoscale imaging of complete bones and whole joints under precisely controlled loads.
To do that, they had to enhance resolution without compromising the field of view; reduce total radiation exposure to preserve tissue mechanics; and prevent movement during scanning.
"With low-dose pink-beam synchrotron X-ray tomography, and mechanical loading with nanometric precision, we could simultaneously measure the structural organization and functional response of the tissues," Bay said. "That means we can look at joints from the tissue layers down to the cellular level, with a large field of view and high resolution, without having to cut out samples."
Two features of the study make it particularly helpful in advancing the study of osteoarthritis, he said. "Using intact bones and joints means all of the functional aspects of the complex tissue layering are preserved," Bay said. "And the small size of the mouse bones leads to imaging that is on the scale of the cells that develop, maintain and repair the tissues."
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Oregon State University