Image analysis of collagen-associated mineral distribution in cryogenically prepared turkey leg tendons
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This study is concerned with the cryogenic preservation of intrafibrillar apatite distribution in type I collagen of turkey leg tendons. Cryogenic specimen preparations by the rapid freezing of nonfixed and noncryoprotected leg tendons were performed by two different protocols: (1) low temperature substitution, fixation and staining followed by low temperature embedment; (2) frozen hydrated and air-dried cryosections were examined with the electron microscope at -165 degrees C and normal operating temperatures, respectively. These protocols revealed the axial periodicity for mineralized collagen to have a 65-69 nm range with a mean value of 67 nm as determined by point-to-point measurements. Mineral distributions and specific apatite visualization were examined by electron microscopic imaging in bright field and selected-area dark field, respectively. Fourier filtered images and image subtraction were used to separate the axial repeating and nonrepeating intrafibrillar mineral domains of collagen. The removal of these axial repeats revealed an underlying and integrated mineral distribution, demonstrating that apatite is not confined to axial periodicities such as those of the gap zone.
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