Mason, Sarah and Phillips, James
Collagen fibril diameter variation correlates with biomechanical heterogeneity in peripheral nerves.
In: Proceedings of the International Anatomical Sciences and Cell Biology Conference, 26 - 29 May 2010, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
INTRODUCTION: Previous research has identified that the stiffness of rat peripheral nerves varies longitudinally according to where they traverse joints. Fibrillar collagen is the predominant matrix protein in the peripheral nervous system and is known to play an important role in the mechanical properties of many tissues during normal physiological movement. This study explores how ultrastructural features of fibrillar collagen vary in specific regions of rat peripheral nerves.
OBJECTIVES: To measure the diameter of collagen fibrils and the unit cross sectional area of collagen in joint and non joint regions of rat median and sciatic nerves.
PROCEDURES: Joint and non-joint regions of rat median and sciatic nerves were resected post mortem from 250-350g rats, maintained at their in situ tension and processed for transmission electron microscopy. Collagen fibril diameter and unit area of collagen per region of interest was measured and analysed.
RESULTS: In the median nerve, collagen fibrils were significantly thinner at joint regions compared to non joint regions. This phenomenon was evident in both the epineurium and the endoneurium of the median nerve (42.1nm ± 2.86 vs 47.1nm ± 2.87 and 66.1nm ± 5.74 vs 77.9nm ± 6.61 respectively), but not the sciatic nerve. Unit cross sectional area of collagen was comparable in the joint and non joint regions in the endoneurium and epineurium of the median nerve and sciatic nerves.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that localised variation in nerve stiffness may be due to the size of collagen fibrils, with an increased number of thinner fibrils at joints and no difference in the overall collagen cross sectional area between regions.
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