It has been reported previously that collagen fibers will stain either red or green by Masson’s and other trichrome methods depending on whether they have been respectively stressed or relaxed prior to fixation. This was shown in skin [1, 2, 3] tendon [4, 5] bone[6] and films of collagen [7]. If this stain-stress dependence is of a unique quantitative nature, then staining could be used as a tension probe for collagen fibers. Relaxed and stressed collagen bundles of rat tail tendon and rat Achilles tendon have been stained using various staining periods, and results indicate that the change in staining may be associated with denser packing of the fibers in the bundle under stress rather than directly due to the stress itself. Denser packing may reduce the rate of penetration of the counterstain thus causing the staining differences. Since this rate of penetration is dependent on a number of other variables (unrelated to stress), it is concluded that collagen staining is not a reliable tension probe.

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