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Jacek Pijanka, Thomas Sorensen, Thao Nguyen, Harry Quigley, Craig Boote; Three-dimensional quantitative analysis of collagen fibre architecture in human peripapillary sclera. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):2299.
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The collagen fibre architecture of the peripapillary sclera has a significant influence on the optic nerve head (ONH) biomechanics and may therefore be important in glaucoma. Our purpose was to obtain the first quantitative 3D maps of collagen fibre architecture in the human peripapillary sclera.
6 mm diameter peripapillary scleral buttons were removed post-mortem from three left normal Caucasian human donor eyes aged 74-79 years with no history of glaucoma. Six 150 µm thick serial sections were obtained for each button using a cryo-microtome. Wide angle x-ray scattering was used to quantify the orientation (Fig. 1), mass distribution and degree of anisotropy (Table 1) of preferentially aligned collagen fibres at 0.5 mm intervals across each section. Second harmonic generation multiphoton microscopy provided visual confirmation of the collagen fibre alignment.
Consistent with previous findings by our lab and others, a ring of fibres was noted circumscribing the ONH, in which the degree of fibre alignment varied with circumferential position (Fig. 1). New quantitative depth-profiling of the fibre anisotropy revealed that the circumferential fibre ring structure was concentrated in the mid stromal depth (Fig. 1 and Table 1). Meridional fibre bands were also noted anchoring superiorly and inferiorly into the peripapillary fibre ring and radiating obliquely into the mid-posterior sclera. This feature was also more evident in the mid-stromal depth (Fig. 1).
The anisotropic collagen fibre architecture of the human peripapillary sclera exhibits marked depth-dependency. This may represent a mechanical adaptation designed to protect the ONH from pressure elevations by more effectively reinforcing the peripapillary tissue at its insertion point with the lamina cribrosa.
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