Osteoarthritis assessment to go hi-tech

13 March 2019:

CNBP scientists have reported an advanced new imaging technique that allows the condition of joint cartilage to be examined—right down to a molecular level. The technique has potential for diagnostics and treatment-planning of cartilage disease and impairment, including for osteoarthritis.

“Damage and degradation of cartilage around joints leads to severe pain and loss of mobility,” says Dr Saabah Mahbub, Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) and lead author of the published study.

“We need a tool to help us to determine objectively, the degree of problem that the joint cartilage is exhibiting. We then need a way to be able to monitor the effectiveness of any cartilage regeneration therapies that are able to be undertaken,” he says.

“Ideally we need to be able to do this monitoring at a molecular level and in a minimally invasive way.”

A cutting-edge technique termed hyperspectral imaging was used by Dr Mahbub to achieve this. This combined the power of an advanced optical microscope together with high powered data analysis, to measure and image the electromagnetic light-waves being given off by the cartilage tissue and cartilage cells known as chondrocytes.

“In this study, we applied our advanced hyperspectral microscopy to osteoarthritic human cartilage—to investigate its capacity to generate molecular data and to help us characterise the cartilage disease-state, as well as to examine potential treatment effects,” he says.

Read the full media release here.

Journal: Scientific Reports.

Publication title: Non-Invasive Monitoring of Functional state of Articular Cartilage tissue with Label-Free Unsupervised Hyperspectral Imaging.

Authors: Saabah B. Mahbub, Anna Guller, Jared M. Campbell, Ayad G. Anwer, Martin E. Gosnell, Graham Vesey & Ewa M. Goldys.

Abstract: Damage and degradation of articular cartilage leads to severe pain and loss of mobility. the development of new therapies for cartilage regeneration for monitoring their effect requires further study of cartilage, ideally at a molecular level and in a minimally invasive way. Hyperspectral microscopy is a novel technology which utilises endogenous fluorophores to non-invasively assess the molecular composition of cells and tissue. In this study, we applied hyperspectral microscopy to healthy bovine articular cartilage and osteoarthritic human articular cartilage to investigate its capacity to generate informative molecular data and characterise disease state and treatment effects. We successfully demonstrated label-free fluorescence identification of collagen type I and II – isolated in cartilage here for the first time and the co-enzymes free NADH and FAD which together give the optical redox ratio that is an important measure of metabolic activity. the intracellular composition of chondrocytes was also examined. Differences were observed in the molecular ratios within the superficial and transitional zones of the articular cartilage which appeared to be influenced by disease state and treatment. These findings show that hyperspectral microscopy could be useful for investigating the molecular underpinnings of articular cartilage degradation and repair. As it is non-invasive and non-destructive, samples can be repeatedly assessed over time, enabling true time-course experiments with in-depth molecular data. Additionally, there is potential for the hyperspectral approach to be adapted for patient examination to allow the investigation of cartilage state. this could be of advantage for assessment and diagnosis as well as treatment monitoring.