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Micron. 2001 Apr;32(3):287-300.

Structural variations of collagen in normal and pathological tissues: role of electron microscopy.

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Department of Histopathology, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, M20 4BX, Manchester, UK.


The spectrum of ultrastructural appearances assumed by collagen in normal and pathological tissues is illustrated using techniques of thin section transmission electron microscopy and computer-assisted analysis. The normal fibrillar collagen types are described in order to provide a basis for comparing other normal and abnormal forms. In normal tissues, the anchoring fibril and basal lamina (basement membrane) represent tissue structures largely containing collagen but differing significantly in organisation from normal types I to III fibrillar collagen. In pathological tissue, deviations from normal fine structure are reflected in abnormal aggregates of collagen fibrils (amianthoid and skeinoid fibres) and abnormalities in fibril diameter and cross-sectional profile. Fibrous and segment long-spacing collagen represent two further organisational variants of collagen, the former found widely in pathological tissues, the latter very rarely. Much remains to be discovered about these abnormal collagen variants-their mode of formation, the cells that produce them, and their roles. They also present a challenge for the collagen biologist formulating hypotheses of collagen fibril assembly and molecular organisation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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