Three-dimensional morphometry of collagen fibrils in membranous bone†
The collagen network acts as a scaffold for calcification and its three-dimensional structure influences bone strength. It is therefore important to observe the collagen network in detail and three-dimensionally. In this study, we observed the collagen network of chick embryonic calvariae in membranous bone three-dimensionally using orthogonally arranged FIB-SEM. A 25 × 25 μm area of chick embryonic calvaria was observed at a high resolution (25 nm per pixel). The inside of the bone (i.e. the primary calcified tissue), the bone cells (i.e. the osteoblasts and the osteocytes), the organelles, and the collagen fibrils were observed in detail. These structures were observed three-dimensionally using the Amira software program. In addition, the collagen fibrils of the bone were automatically extracted using the XTracing extension software program, and three-dimensional morphometry was performed. Almost all of the collagen fibrils ran along the longitudinal axis of the trabecular bone. We found that the regularity of the collagen fibril orientation was less remarkable in the osteoblast layer, which contained numerous osteoblasts. The collagen fibril orientation started to show regularity toward the central bone layer, which contained few bone cells.