Quantifying the hydroxyapatite orientation near the ossification front in a piglet femoral condyle using X-ray diffraction tensor tomography
Journal article, 2021

While a detailed knowledge of the hierarchical structure and morphology of the extracellular matrix is considered crucial for understanding the physiological and mechanical properties of bone and cartilage, the orientation of collagen fibres and carbonated hydroxyapatite (HA) crystallites remains a debated topic. Conventional microscopy techniques for orientational imaging require destructive sample sectioning, which both precludes further studies of the intact sample and potentially changes the microstructure. In this work, we use X-ray diffraction tensor tomography to image non-destructively in 3D the HA orientation in a medial femoral condyle of a piglet. By exploiting the anisotropic HA diffraction signal, 3D maps showing systematic local variations of the HA crystallite orientation in the growing subchondral bone and in the adjacent mineralized growth cartilage are obtained. Orientation maps of HA crystallites over a large field of view (~ 3 × 3 × 3 mm3) close to the ossification (bone-growth) front are compared with high-resolution X-ray propagation phase-contrast computed tomography images. The HA crystallites are found to predominantly orient with their crystallite c-axis directed towards the ossification front. Distinct patterns of HA preferred orientation are found in the vicinity of cartilage canals protruding from the subchondral bone. The demonstrated ability of retrieving 3D orientation maps of bone-cartilage structures is expected to give a better understanding of the physiological properties of bones, including their propensity for bone-cartilage diseases.


Fredrik K. Mürer

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Basab Chattopadhyay

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Aldritt Scaria Madathiparambil

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Kim Robert Tekseth

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Marco Di Michiel

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF)

Marianne Liebi

Chalmers, Physics, Materials Physics

Magnus B. Lilledahl

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Kristin Olstad

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

Dag W. Breiby

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

University of South-Eastern Norway (USN)

Scientific Reports

2045-2322 (ISSN) 20452322 (eISSN)

Vol. 11 1 2144

Subject Categories

Bio Materials

Medical Materials

Medical Image Processing





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