Connective soft tissues have complex mechanical properties that are determined by their collagen fiber network and surrounding non-fibrillar material. The mechanical role of non-fibrillar material and the nature of its interaction with the collagen network remain poorly understood, in part because of the lack of a simple experimental model system to examine and quantify these properties. The development of a simple but representational experimental system will allow for greater insight into the interaction between fibers and the non-fibrillar matrix. Reconstituted Type I collagen gels are an attractive model tissue for exploring micro- and macroscale relationships between constituents (e.g., [1–2]), but standard collagen gels lack the non-fibrillar components (i.e., proteoglycan, minor collagens, etc.) present in native tissue. A recent study  added low quantities of agarose to collagen gels, which dramatically increased the shear storage modulus with minimal changes to the collagen fiber network. In this study, we suggest that collagen-agarose co-gels can serve as a model system to investigate the mechanical role of non-fibrillar ECM. Even though agarose is relatively compliant at low concentrations, and collagen fibers are very stiff in tension, we hypothesized that the presence of agarose in co-gels would have a pronounced effect on structural response and mechanical behavior in tensile loading. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the properties of collagen-agarose co-gels to understand better the nature of, and the relationships between, the collagen fiber network and non-fibrillar matrix of simplified tissue analogs.
- Bioengineering Division
Collagen-Agarose Co-Gels as a Model for Collagen-Matrix Interaction in Soft Tissue
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Lake, SP, Doggett, S, & Barocas, VH. "Collagen-Agarose Co-Gels as a Model for Collagen-Matrix Interaction in Soft Tissue." Proceedings of the ASME 2011 Summer Bioengineering Conference. ASME 2011 Summer Bioengineering Conference, Parts A and B. Farmington, Pennsylvania, USA. June 22–25, 2011. pp. 1351-1352. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/SBC2011-53640
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