Medical Research Council - Clinical Services Centre

Getting Connected
12 August 2012

Getting Connected

Our bodies are held together by connective tissue - the tough, fibrous material that links together our flesh and bones. The most important ingredient of this biological ‘glue’ is collagen, which makes up around a quarter of all the protein in our entire body. Long, stringy collagen fibres – each less than a thousandth of the thickness of a human hair – bundle together like the strands of a rope to create sturdy tendons and ligaments. Collagen is also a vital component of skin, cartilage, bone and more. These collagen fibres were removed from someone’s knee during a type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy and captured using a scanning electron microscope, which uses tiny beams of electrons to build up delicate three-dimensional images. Subtle colours have been added afterwards; real-life collagen looks less colourful, though no less beautiful.

Written by Kat Arney

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