Three-Dimensional Geometry of Collagenous Tissues by Second Harmonic Polarimetry.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-02326-7
Collagen is a biological macromolecule capable of second harmonic generation, allowing label-free detection in tissues; in addition, molecular orientation can be determined from the polarization dependence of the second harmonic signal. Previously we reported that in-plane orientation of collagen fibrils could be determined by modulating the polarization angle of the laser during scanning. We have now extended this method so that out-of-plane orientation angles can be determined at the same time, allowing visualization of the 3-dimensional structure of collagenous tissues. This approach offers advantages compared with other methods for determining out-of-plane orientation. First, the orientation angles are directly calculated from the polarimetry data obtained in a single scan, while other reported methods require data from multiple scans, use of iterative optimization methods, application of fitting algorithms, or extensive post-optical processing. Second, our method does not require highly specialized instrumentation, and thus can be adapted for use in almost any nonlinear optical microscopy setup. It is suitable for both basic and clinical applications. We present three-dimensional images of structurally complex collagenous tissues that illustrate the power of such 3-dimensional analyses to reveal the architecture of biological structures.