Synchrotron based X-ray diffraction experiments can be highly effective in the study of mammalian connective tissues and related disease. It has been employed here to observe changes in the structure of Extra-Cellular Matrix (ECM), induced in an ex vivo tissue based model of the disease process underlying diabetes. Pathological changes to the structure and organization of the fibrillar collagens within the ECM, such as the formation of non-enzymatic crosslinks in diabetes and normal aging, have been shown to play an important role in the progression of such maladies. However, without direct, quantified and specific knowledge of where in the molecular packing these changes occur, development of therapeutic interventions has been impeded. In vivo, the result of non-enzymatic glycosylation i.e. glycation, is the formation of sugar-mediated crosslinks, aka advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), within the native D-periodic structure of type I collagen. The locations for the formation of these crosslinks have, until now, been inferred from indirect or comparatively low resolution data under conditions likely to induce experimental artifacts. We present here X-ray diffraction derived data, collected from whole hydrated and intact isomorphously derivatized tendons, that indicate the location of both native (existing) and AGE crosslinks in situ of D-periodic fibrillar collagen.
Part of the book: Accelerator Physics