Collagen gels can serve as biomaterials ideal for tissue equivalents, especially if they are remodeled to have fibril anisotropy mimicking native tissue. Type I collagen gel remodeling was studied microscopically to investigate the changes caused by fibroblasts in collagen gel structures, with and without the growth factors PDGF-BB and TGF-β1. A bidirectional laser trap microrheometry technique was developed that revealed a high degree of local heterogeneity and anisotropy in the structure of the collagen gels during active fibroblast contraction. The use of the growth factors increased not only the gel anisotropy, but the heterogeneity as well, indicating further changes in the collagen fibril orientations. This work shows the ability to influence the remodeling capabilities of fibroblasts by using growth factors in order to begin to elucidate the changes in the local mechanical environment of contracting collagen gels. We present this experimental technique as a method for probing changes in the fibroblast-driven anisotropy of collagen gels as a basis for understanding microstructural tissue organization important in the development of collagen-based tissue equivalents.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering