Atomic force microscopy characterization of collagen 'nanostraws' in human costal cartilage

M. Stacey, D. Dutta, W. Cao, A. Asmar, H. Elsayed-Ali, R. Kelly, A. Beskok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Costal cartilage, a type of hyaline cartilage that bridges the bony ribs and sternum, is relatively understudied compared to the load bearing cartilages. Deformities of costal cartilage can result in deformation of the chest wall, where the sternum is largely pushed toward or away from the spine, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum, respectively, with each condition having significant clinical impact. In the absence of extensive literature describing morphological features of costal cartilage, we characterized a sample from the costal margin immunohistologically and through atomic force microscopy. We had previously observed the presence of collagen 'nanostraws' running the length of costal cartilage. Hypothesizing that these structures may be responsible for fluid flow within this thick, avascular tissue, and prior to microfluidic analysis, we estimated the diameters and measured Young's modulus of elasticity of the collagen nanostraws. We found significant differences in results between treatment type and fixation. Significant differences in nanostraw elasticity and diameter obviously affect nano-fluidic transport calculations, and therefore, we consider these results of importance to the scientific community relying upon measurements in the nanoscale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-487
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • AFM
  • Cartilage
  • Collagen fibers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Cell Biology


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