Modulation of collagen fiber orientation by strain-controlled enzymatic degradation
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
Collagen fiber anisotropy has a significant influence on the function and mechanical properties of cardiovascular tissues. We investigated if strain-dependent collagen degradation can explain collagen orientation in response to uniaxial and biaxial mechanical loads. First, decellularized pericardial samples were stretched to a fixed uniaxial strain and after adding a collagen degrading enzyme (collagenase), force relaxation was measured to calculate the degradation rate. This data was used to identify the strain dependent degradation rate. A minimum was observed in the degradation rate curve. It was then demonstrated, for the first time, that biaxial strain in combination with collagenase alters the collagen fiber alignment from an initially isotropic distribution to an anisotropic distribution with a mean alignment corresponding with the strain at the minimum degradation rate, which may be in between the principal strain directions. When both strains were smaller than the minimum degradation point, fibers tended to align in the direction of the larger strain and when both strains were larger than the minimum degradation, fibers mainly aligned in the direction of the smaller strain. However, when one strain was larger and one was smaller than the minimum degradation point, the observed fiber alignment was in between the principal strain directions. In the absence of collagenase, uniaxial and biaxial strains only had a slight effect on the collagen (re)orientation of the decellularized samples.
Statement of Significance
Collagen fiber orientation is a significant determinant of the mechanical properties of native tissues. To mimic the native-like collagen alignment in vitro, we need to understand the underlying mechanisms that direct this alignment. In the current study, we aimed to control collagen fiber orientation by applying biaxial strains in the presence of collagenase. We hypothesized that strain-dependent collagen degradation can describe specific collagen orientation when biaxial mechanical strains are applied. Based on this hypothesis, collagen fibers align in the direction where the degradation is minimal. Pericardial tissues, as isotropic collagen matrices, were decellularized and subjected to a fixed uniaxial strain. Then, collagenase was added to initiate the collagen degradation and the relaxation of force was measured to indicate the degradation rate. The V-shaped relationship between degradation rate and strain was obtained to identify the minimum degradation rate point. It was then demonstrated, for the first time, that biaxial strain in combination with collagenase alters the collagen fiber alignment from almost isotropic to a direction corresponding with the strain at the minimum degradation rate.
- BIOMECHANICS, Collagen fiber degradation, Collagen fiber orientation, Collagenase, ENGINEERED HEART-VALVES, EVOLUTION, FIBROBLAST TRACTION, MATRIX, MECHANISM, MOLECULES, MORPHOGENESIS, Second harmonic generation, TISSUES, Tensile testing