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Keywords:

  • polarized light microscopy;
  • cartilage;
  • collagen;
  • collagen network;
  • Fourier transform infrared imaging

Abstract

Polarized light microscopy is a traditional method for visualizing the collagen network architecture of articular cartilage. Articular cartilage repair and tissue engineering studies have raised new demands for techniques capable of quantitative characterization of the scar and repair tissues, including properties of the collagen network. Modern polarized light microscopy can be used to measure collagen fibril orientation, parallelism, and birefringence. New commercial instruments are computer controlled and the measurements are easy to perform. However, often the interpretation of results causes difficulties, even errors, because the theoretical aspects of the technique are demanding. The aim of this study was to describe the instrumentation and properties of a modern polarized light microscope, to point out some sources of error in the interpretation of the results, and to recall the theoretical background of the polarized light microscopy. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.