Birefringence of skeletal muscle has been associated with the ultrastructure of individual sarcomeres, specifically the arrangement of A-bands corresponding to the thick myosin filaments. Murine skeletal muscle (gastrocnemius) was imaged with a fiber-based PS-OCT imaging system to determine the level of birefringence present in the tissue under various conditions. In addition to muscle controls from wild-type mice, muscle from abnormal mice included: genetically-modified (mdx) mice which model human muscular dystrophy, transgenic mice exhibiting an overexpression of integrin (α7β1), and transgenic integrin (α7β1) knockout mice. Comparisons were also made between rested and exercised muscles to determine the effects of exercise on muscle birefringence for each of these normal and abnormal conditions. The PS-OCT images revealed that the presence of birefringence was similar in the rested muscle with dystrophy-like features (i.e., lacking the structural protein dystrophin - mdx) and in the integrin (α7β1) knockout muscle when compared to the normal (wild-type) control. However, exercising these abnormal muscle tissues drastically reduced the presence of birefringence detected by the PS-OCT system. The muscle exhibiting an overexpression of integrin (α7β1) remained heavily birefringent before and after exercise, similar to the normal (wild-type) muscle. These results suggest that there is a distinct relationship between the degree of birefringence detected using PS-OCT and the sarcomeric ultrastructure present within skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2006
EventCoherence Domain Optical Methods and Optical Coherence Tomography in Biomedicine X - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 23 2006Jan 25 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherCoherence Domain Optical Methods and Optical Coherence Tomography in Biomedicine X
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose, CA


  • Birefringence
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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