Injuries and damage to tendons plague both human and equine athletes. At the site of injuries, various cells congregate to repair and re-structure the collagen. Treatments for collagen injury range from simple procedures such as icing and pharmaceutical treatments to more complex surgeries and the implantation of stem cells. Regardless of the treatment, the level of mechanical stimulation incurred by the recovering tendon is crucial. However, for a given tendon injury, it is not known precisely how much of a load should be applied for an effective recovery. Both too much and too little loading of the tendon could be detrimental during recovery. A mapping of the complex local environment imparted to any cell present at the site of a tendon injury may however, convey fundamental insights related to their decision making as a function of applied load. Therefore, fundamentally knowing how cells translate mechanical cues from their external environment into signals regulating their functions during repair is crucial to more effectively treat these types of injuries. In this paper, we studied systems of tendons with a variety of 2-photon-based imaging techniques to examine the local mechanical environment of cells in both normal and injured tendons. These tendons were chemically treated to instigate various extents of injury and in some cases, were injected with stem cells. The results related by each imaging technique distinguish with high contrast and resolution multiple morphologies of the cells' nuclei and the alignment of the collagen during injury. The incorporation of 2-photon FLIM into this study probed new features in the local environment of the nuclei that were not apparent with steady-state imaging. Overall, this paper focuses on horse tendon injury pattern and analysis with different 2-photon confocal modalities useful for wide variety of application in damaged tissues.
- 2-Photon fluorescence microscopy
- Cell/nuclear morphometric analysis and quantification
- Collagen fiber organization
- Fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy
- Horse tendons
- Second-harmonic generation microscopy