Non uniformity: structural strategy for optimizing functionality in skeletal ligaments
MetadataShow full item record
Ligaments serve as compliant connectors between hard tissues. In that role, they function under various load regimes and directions. However, the 3D structure of ligaments is still considered uniform. The periodontal ligament connects the tooth to the bone and like other ligaments, it sustains different types of loads in various directions. Using the PDL as a model, and employing a fabricated motorized set-up in a microCT instrument, morphological automated segmentation methods and 2nd harmonic generation imaging, we demonstrate that the fibrous network structure within the PDL is not uniform, even before the tooth becomes functional. We find that areas sustaining compression loads are pre-structured with sparse collagenous networks and large blood vessels, whereas other areas contain dense collagen networks with few blood vessels. Therefore, the PDL develops as a non-uniform structure, with an architecture designed to sustain specific types of load in different areas. Based on these findings, we propose that ligaments in general should be regarded as non-uniform entities structured for optimal functioning under variable load regimes.