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Imaging of Normal and Pathologic Joint Synovium Using Nonlinear Optical Microscopy as a Potential Diagnostic Tool

NLOM images of synovial tissue demonstrate the dramatic changes seen in the structure of pathologic joint tissue. The images illustrated were obtained at a depth of 45 µm from the surface of normal joints (A and B), septic arthritis (C) and immune-mediated arthritis (D). At a depth of 45 µm, normal synovium predominately consists of adipocytes (A) and collagen matrix (B) with little other cellular content, while both the septic (C) and immune-mediated (D) specimens demonstrate a substantial increase in cellular content with a corresponding decrease in collagen and adipocytes. The septic tissue demonstrates large cells with multilobular nuclei characteristic of polymorphs and macrophages along with elongated cells characteristic of fibroblasts, while the cellular infiltrate observed in the immune mediated specimens is composed of smaller cells with oval nuclei characteristic of an inflammatory response predominated by lymphocytes. Scale bars are 50 µm.

Rheumatoid arthritis (affects approximately 1.3 million people in the US, causing profound changes in joints, and without early diagnosis and intervention, may progress to serious disability. The BLI research group lead by Dr. George Peavy carried out studies to determine if nonlinear optical microscopy (NLOM) could utilize the natural fluorescence properties of tissue to acquire images that would allow visualization of the structural and cellular composition of normal and diseased joint tissue without the need for a standard joint biopsy. NLOM imaging of fresh normal and pathologic synovial tissue revealed the cellular structure and differential characteristics of inflammatory infiltrates without requiring tissue processing or staining (Figure).

The successful imaging of synovial tissue using NLOM as reported in this study introduces this novel imaging modality as a potential tool for the early diagnosis and monitoring of the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases.

Imaging of Normal and Pathologic Joint Synovium Using Nonlinear Optical Microscopy as a Potential Diagnostic Tool by N. Tiware, S. Chabra, S. Medi, P. Sweet, T. Krasieva, R. Pool, B. Andrews and G. Peavy in Journal of Biomedical Optics 15(5), 056001 (2010).
For more information please contact George Peavy (gpeavy@uci.edu)