Quantitative characterization of developing collagen gels using optical coherence tomography

David Levitz, Monica T. Hinds, Niloy Choudhury, Noi T. Tran, Stephen R. Hanson, Steven L. Jacques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Nondestructive optical imaging methods such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) have been proposed for characterizing engineered tissues such as collagen gels. In our study, OCT was used to image collagen gels with different seeding densities of smooth muscle cells (SMCs), including acellular gels, over a five-day period during which the gels contracted and became turbid with increased optical scattering. The gels were characterized quantitatively by their optical properties, specified by analysis of OCT data using a theoretical model. At 6h, seeded cell density and scattering coefficient (μ s) were correlated, withμ s equal to 10.8 cm -1/(10 6 cells/mL). Seeded cell density and the scattering anisotropy (g) were uncorrelated. Over five days, the reflectivity in SMC gels gradually doubled with little change in optical attenuation, which indicated a decrease in g that increased backscatter, but only a small drop in μ s. At five days, a subpopulation of sites on the gel showed substantially higher reflectivity (approximately a tenfold increase from the first 24 h). In summary, the increased turbidity of SMC gels that develops over time is due to a change in the structure of collagen, which affects g, and not simply due to a change in number density of collagen fibers due to contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026019
JournalJournal of biomedical optics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010


  • Anisotropy
  • Collagen gels
  • Hydrogels
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Optical properties
  • Scattering
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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