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Costal cartilage, a type of hyaline cartilage that bridges the bony ribs and sternum, is relatively understudied compared to the load bearing cartilages. Deformities of costal cartilage can result in deformation of the chest wall, where the sternum is largely pushed toward or away from the spine, pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum, respectively, with each condition having significant clinical impact. In the absence of extensive literature describing morphological features of costal cartilage, we characterized a sample from the costal margin immunohistologically and through atomic force microscopy. We had previously observed the presence of collagen ‘nanostraws’ running the length of costal cartilage. Hypothesizing that these structures may be responsible for fluid flow within this thick, avascular tissue, and prior to microfluidic analysis, we estimated the diameters and measured Young's modulus of elasticity of the collagen nanostraws. We found significant differences in results between treatment type and fixation. Significant differences in nanostraw elasticity and diameter obviously affect nano-fluidic transport calculations, and therefore, we consider these results of importance to the scientific community relying upon measurements in the nanoscale.


NOTE: This is the final author’s version (post-print) of a work that was published in Micron. The final version was published as:

Stacey, M., Dutta, D., Cao, W., Asmar, A., Elsayed-Ali, H., Kelly Jr, R., & Beskok, A. (2013). Atomic force microscopy characterization of collagen ‘nanostraws’ in human costal cartilage. Micron, 44, 483-487. doi: 10.1016/j.micron.2012.10.006

The final publication is available at: