Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A cartilage study that should be redone with modern imaging technology

Back in 1973, Florida and Pennsylvania researchers published findings in which they unexpectedly discovered that rabbit cartilage cells (synovial cells and chondrocytes) could become infected by Influenza A2 viruses. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC422866/) However, using "light microscopy" to look at the cells, they were unable to detect any cytopathology in the infected cells, even after a period of 18 days. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC422866/?page=4)

But a lack of effect in cartilage cells from influenza doesn't make any sense, for influenza is known to often cause aches and pains in joints. (https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/864122/flu-symptoms-aussie-cold-virus-arthritis-joint-pain) Further, chondrocytes infected with influenza A might have the ability to tell T-cells to destroy them. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2567.2003.01621.x/full: "The ability of chondrocytes to process and present both endogenous and viral antigens also confirms them as possible target cells for [cytotoxic T cells] in the enthesis or joint during localized inflammation or infection.")

Something must be occurring within the influenza A-infected chondrocytes. We need more than 1970s microscopes on the job. Something like this:
Using sheets of light to scan cells, a new microscope can capture real-time 3D videos of what's happening inside cells down to the molecular level—feat once thought impossible.  


This new microscope, outlined today in the journal Science, builds on advances in what's called light-sheet microscopy, in which sheets of light scan the targets. Conventional light sheets are too thick to illuminate details smaller than cells, though. So Betzig and his colleagues used ultra-thin sheets as little as 250 nanometers (billionths of a meter) wide.
The new microscope can achieve resolutions of up to 230 nanometers and record at up to 1,000 frames per second, Betzig says. And crucially, the light sheets spread light energy in such a way to minimize damage to any single point in a specimen.
Scientists have used the new microscope to study embryonic development in nematodes and fruit flies, trace the pathways of nerve cells that form synapses in the brain, and follow the progress of proteins that clump together to cause disease.
"This really lets you look at the dynamic processes in cells in 3-D non-invasively," says Betzig, an engineering physicist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Va.

The invention of the microscope was a huge advance in medicine. Can you imagine how far imaging down to the molecular level will take medical science?

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