The ultra-structural organization of the elastic network in the intra- and inter-lamellar matrix of the intervertebral disc

Javad Tavakoli, Dawn Elliott, John Costi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The inter-lamellar matrix (ILM)—located between adjacent lamellae of the annulus fibrosus—consists of a complex structure of elastic fibers, while elastic fibers of the intra-lamellar region are aligned predominantly parallel to the collagen fibers. The organization of elastic fibers under low magnification, in both inter- and intra-lamellar regions, was studied by light microscopic analysis of histologically prepared samples; however, little is known about their ultrastructure. An ultrastructural visualization of elastic fibers in the inter-lamellar matrix is crucial for describing their contribution to structural integrity, as well as mechanical properties of the annulus fibrosus. The aims of this study were twofold: first, to present an ultrastructural analysis of the elastic fiber network in the ILM and intra-lamellar region, including cross section (CS) and in-plane (IP) lamellae, of the AF using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and second, to -compare the elastic fiber orientation between the ILM and intra-lamellar region. Four samples (lumbar sheep discs) from adjacent sections (30 μm thickness) of anterior annulus were partially digested by a developed NaOH-sonication method for visualization of elastic fibers by SEM. Elastic fiber orientation and distribution were quantified relative to the tangential to circumferential reference axis. Visualization of the ILM under high magnification revealed a dense network of elastic fibers that has not been previously described. Within the ILM, elastic fibers form a complex network, consisting of different size and shape fibers, which differed to those located in the intra-lamellar region. For both regions, the majority of fibers were oriented near 0° with respect to tangential to circumferential (TCD) direction and two minor symmetrical orientations of approximately ±45°. Statistically, the orientation of elastic fibers between the ILM and intra-lamellar region was not different (p = 0.171). The present study used extracellular matrix partial digestion to address significant gaps in understanding of disc microstructure and will contribute to multidisciplinary ultrastructure-function studies. Statement of Significance Visualization of the intra-lamellar matrix under high magnification revealed a dense network of elastic fibers that has not been previously described. The present study used extracellular matrix partial digestion to address significant gaps in understanding of disc microstructure and will contribute to multidisciplinary ultrastructure-function studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)269-277
    Number of pages9
    JournalActa Biomaterialia
    Volume58
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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