Preterm birth risk is associated with early softening of the uterine cervix in pregnancy due to the accelerated remodeling of collagen extracellular matrix. Studies of mice model of pregnancy were performed with an imaging Mueller polarimeter at different time points of pregnancy to find polarimetric parameters for collagen scoring. Mueller matrix images of the unstained sections of mice uterine cervices were taken at day 6 and day 18 of 19-days gestation period and at different spatial locations through the cervices. The logarithmic decomposition of the recorded Mueller matrices mapped the depolarization, linear retardance, and azimuth of the optical axis of cervical tissue. These images highlighted both the inner structure of cervix and the arrangement of cervical collagen fibers confirmed by the second harmonic generation microscopy. The statistical analysis and two-Gaussians fit of the distributions of linear retardance and linear depolarization in the entire images of cervical tissue (without manual selection of the specific regions of interest) quantified the randomization of collagen fibers alignment with gestation time. At day 18 the remodeling of cervical extracellular matrix of collagen was measurable at the external cervical os that is available for the direct optical observations in vivo. It supports the assumption that imaging Mueller polarimetry holds promise for the fast and accurate collagen scoring in pregnancy and the assessment of the preterm birth risk.
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