Immature and mature articular cartilage from the humeral joints of rabbits were studied quantitatively and at microscopic resolutions by µMRI and polarized light microscopy (PLM). µMRI data revealed a number of differences between the immature and mature cartilage, including total thickness and T2 relaxation values. PLM data revealed in addition the cellular differences between the tissues. The mature cartilage has a clearly defined tidemark, which was absent in the immature tissue. The ability to differentiate specific maturation-related characteristics in cartilage could benefit translational studies of degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.
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