, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 249-255

Microspectrophotometric quantitation of glycosaminoglycans in articular cartilage sections stained with Safranin O

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A new microspectrophotometric method was developed for quantitation of glycosaminoglycans with Safranin O dye in articular cartilage matrix. From histological sections molar extinction coefficient of Safranin O was determined and used to measure the dye content of the sections. The amount of glycosaminoglycans was determined with depth of bovine articular cartilage by both gas chromatography and thin layer chromatography to calculate the fixed negative charge content. Comparison between the results revealed that binding of Safranin O to glycosaminoglycan polyanions was stoichiometric and showed minimal nonspecific staining. The method provides an accurate technique for quantitation and localization of fixed negative charge content of glycosaminoglycans in the articular cartilage matrix. Specific enzyme digestions enable detection of separate glycosaminoglycans.