Depth-dependent changes in collagen organization in the human peripapillary sclera

Jacek K. Pijanka, Martin T. Spang, Thomas Sorensen, Jun Liu, Thao D. Nguyen, Harry A. Quigley, Craig Boote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose The collagen structure of the human peripapillary sclera plays a significant role in determining optic nerve head (ONH) biomechanics, and is therefore of interest in the study of glaucoma. The aim of the current work was to map the anisotropic collagen structure of the normal human peripapillary sclera as a function of tissue depth. Methods Wide-angle x-ray scattering was used to quantify collagen fibril orientation at 0.5mm intervals across six 150 μm-thick serial sections through the peripapillary sclera of eight normal European-derived human eyes. Two structural parameters were measured: 1) the relative number of fibrils preferentially aligned at a given angle within the tissue plane, 2) the degree of collagen alignment (anisotropy). Results The inner-most one-third of the peripapillary scleral stroma (nearest to the choroid) was characterised by collagen fibrils either randomly arranged or preferentially aligned radially with respect to the ONH. In contrast, the outer two-thirds of the tissue was dominated by a circumferential arrangement of collagen encircling the ONH. In all tissue regions the degree of collagen anisotropy peaked in the mid-stroma and progressively decreased towards the tissue surfaces, with the largest depth variations occurring in the inferior-nasal quadrant, and the smallest occurring in the superior-nasal quadrant. Conclusions Significant, region-specific variations in collagen structure are present in the human peripapillary sclera as a function of depth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0118648
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 25 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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