Application of Raman spectroscopy to analysis of subchondral bone is described. The effect of cartilage health on subchondral bone has been widely studied using radiological and histological methods; however, there is no method to directly assay mineral components. We present Raman spectra of femur condyles and observe mineral bands that arise from the subchondral bone. In two separate experiments, transgenic mouse models of early-onset osteoarthritis (OA) and lipoatrophy were compared to tissue from wild-type mice. Raman spectroscopy was used to identify chemical changes in the mineral of subchondral bone that may accompany or precede morphological changes that can be observed by histology. The transgenic mice were compared to age-matched wild-type mice. Subtle alterations in the mineral or collagen matrix were observed by Raman spectroscopy using established Raman markers such as the carbonate-to-phosphate ratio, mineral-to-matrix ratio (MTMR), and amide I ratio. The Raman microscope configuration enabled rapid collection of Raman spectra from the mineralized layer that lies under an intact layer of non-mineralized articular cartilage. The effect of the cartilage layer on collection of spectra is discussed. The technique proposed is capable of providing insight into the chemical changes that occur in subchondral bone on a molecular level.
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