Morphological characterization of tendon development during chick embryogenesis: measurement of birefringence retardation

Daniel J. McBride, Rita A. Hahn, Frederick Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


Morphological observations and physical measurement of (I) birefringence retardation, (2) mean fibre profile width, and (3) cell volume fraction were used to characterize chick hind limb extensor tendon development. Observations were made at days 7, 10, 14 and 17 embryologic and 1-1.5 post-hatching. Microanatomical observations illustrated a sequential development of tendon microanatomy consisting of (1) a uniaxial cellular framework with discontinuous collagen fibril bundles present in day 7 embryos; (2) a continuous network of birefringent collagen fibres, and early evidence of tendon fasciculation and crimp development by embryonic day 10; and (3) completion of the basic cytoarchitecture of tendon observed at day 14 of embryogenesis. These observations suggest that collagen deposition in tendon involves first a longitudinal and then a lateral organization of tendon fibroblasts. Associated with the progressive anatomical development of tendon was an increase in birefringence retardation, mean collagen fibre profile width, and a decrease in the cell volume fraction. Birefringence retardation per unit thickness, however, did not change. This suggested that the fibril packing density of the fibres remained constant, although the fibres were observed to increase in size. These results indicate that collagen fibrillogenesis in vivo can be quantitatively studied by measurement of the birefringence retardation using polarized light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

Cite this