Skeletal muscle fibers are a known source of form birefringence in biological tissue. The birefringence present in skeletal muscle is associated with the ultrastructure of individual sarcomeres, specifically the arrangement of A-bands corresponding to the thick myosin filaments. Certain structural proteins that prevent damage and maintain the structural and functional health of the muscle fiber preserve the organization of the A-bands in skeletal muscle. Therefore, the level of birefringence detected can estimate the health of the muscle as well as the damage incurred during exercise. Murine skeletal muscle from both genetically-altered (mdx) and normal (wild-type) specimens were imaged in vivo with a fiber-based PS-OCT imaging system to quantitatively determine the level of birefringence present in the tissue before and after exercise. The mdx muscle lacks dystrophin, a structural protein that is mutated in Duchenne muscular dystrophy in humans. Muscle from these mdx mice exhibited a marked decrease in birefringence after exercise, whereas the wild-type muscle was highly birefringent before and after exercise. The quantitative results from this tissue optics study suggest for the first time 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)
Pages (from-to)1547-1556
Number of pages10
JournalOptics Express
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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