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Biophys J. 1998 Feb;74(2 Pt 1):995-8.

A synchrotron x-ray diffraction study of developing chick corneas.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan.


To study some ultrastructural aspects of developing chick corneas we performed a synchrotron x-ray diffraction analysis of 22 specimens obtained daily from developmental day 10 through day 19. Before day 12 of development in chicks we were unable to detect a meridional x-ray diffraction pattern from cornea. Neither were we able to record a first-order equatorial x-ray reflection at this time. Normally, these reflections are present in corneal x-ray patterns, arising from, respectively, the periodic axial electron density of fibrillar collagen and the lattice-like arrangement of the fibrils. By day 12 of development we could detect the third- and fifth-order meridional reflections (indicating increased amounts of collagen) and a first-order equatorial reflection (implying that more collagen was regularly arranged). The third- and fifth-order meridional reflections became more intense as the tissue matured, suggestive of a continued deposition of fibrillar collagen, and the scattering angle of the interfibrillar maximum increased, suggesting that regularly arranged collagen was becoming more closely packed with maturation. In embryonic chick corneas, the establishment of an orderly, fairly compacted matrix of collagen fibrils may be one of the main events underlying the acquisition of corneal transparency.

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