Recognizing different tissues in human fetal femur cartilage by label-free Raman microspectroscopy

A. Kunstar, Jeroen Christianus Hermanus Leijten, S. van Leuveren, J. Hilderink, Cornelis Otto, Clemens van Blitterswijk, Hermanus Bernardus Johannes Karperien, Aart A. van Apeldoorn

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Traditionally, the composition of bone and cartilage is determined by standard histological methods. We used Raman microscopy, which provides a molecular “fingerprint” of the investigated sample, to detect differences between the zones in human fetal femur cartilage without the need for additional staining or labeling. Raman area scans were made from the (pre)articular cartilage, resting, proliferative, and hypertrophic zones of growth plate and endochondral bone within human fetal femora. Multivariate data analysis was performed on Raman spectral datasets to construct cluster images with corresponding cluster averages. Cluster analysis resulted in detection of individual chondrocyte spectra that could be separated from cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) spectra and was verified by comparing cluster images with intensity-based Raman images for the deoxyribonucleic acid/ribonucleic acid (DNA/RNA) band. Specific dendrograms were created using Ward’s clustering method, and principal component analysis (PCA) was performed with the separated and averaged Raman spectra of cells and ECM of all measured zones. Overall (dis)similarities between measured zones were effectively visualized on the dendrograms and main spectral differences were revealed by PCA allowing for label-free detection of individual cartilaginous zones and for label-free evaluation of proper cartilaginous matrix formation for future tissue engineering and clinical purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116012
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • IR-82117
  • METIS-288989


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