Quantitative assessment of muscle damage in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy using polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography

Xiaojie Yang, Lixin Chin, Blake R. Klyen, Tea Shavlakadze, Robert A. McLaughlin, Miranda D. Grounds, David D. Sampson

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Minimally invasive, highresolution imaging of muscle necrosis has the potential to aid in the assessment of diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Undamaged muscle tissue possesses high levels of optical birefringence due to its anisotropic ultrastructure, and this birefringence decreases when the tissue undergoes necrosis. In this study, we present a novel technique to image muscle necrosis using polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT). From PS-OCT scans, our technique is able to quantify the birefringence in muscle tissue, generating an image indicative of the tissue ultrastructure, with areas of abnormally low birefringence indicating necrosis. The technique is demonstrated on excised skeletal muscles from exercised dystrophic mdx mice and control C57BL/10ScSn mice with the resulting images validated against colocated histological sections. The technique additionally gives a measure of the proportion (volume fraction) of necrotic tissue within the three-dimensional imaging field of view. The percentage necrosis assessed by this technique is compared against the percentage necrosis obtained from manual assessment of histological sections, and the difference between the two methods is found to be comparable to the interobserver variability of the histological assessment. This is the first published demonstration of PSOCT to provide automated assessment of muscle necrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-1401
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Birefringence
  • Mdx mouse
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Necrosis
  • Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography

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