Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) loss is an early marker of osteoarthritis, which is a clinical late stage disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The goal of our study was to evaluate the ability of a fiber-based fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIm) technique to detect GAG loss in articular cartilage. Native bovine cartilage explants (n = 20) were exposed to 0 (control), 0.5 (low), or 1 U / mL (high) concentrations of chondroitinase ABC (cABC) to create samples with different levels of GAG loss. FLIm assessment (excitation: 355 nm; detection: channel 1: 375 to 410 nm, channel 2: 450 to 485 nm, channel 3: 530 to 565 nm) was conducted on depth-resolved cross-sections of the cartilage sample. FLIm images, validated with histology, revealed that loss of GAG resulted in a decrease of fluorescence lifetime values in channel 2 (Δ = 0.44 ns, p < 0.05) and channel 3 (Δ = 0.75 ns, p < 0.01) compared to control samples (channel 2: 6.34 ns; channel 3: 5.22 ns). Fluorescence intensity ratio values were lower in channel 1 (37%, p < 0.0001) and channel 2 (31% decrease, p < 0.0001) and higher in channel 3 (23%, p < 0.0001) relative to control samples. These results show that FLIm can detect the loss of GAG in articular cartilage and support further investigation into the feasibility of in vivo FLIm arthroscopy.
- fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy and imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Biomedical Engineering