The molecules of the extracellular matrix in connective tissues are densely packed. Biofabrication methods to attain such molecular packing density are limited and electrochemical processing (EP) of monomeric collagen solutions is one of few means to attain molecular packing. During EP, the pH gradient between electrodes drives the electrophoretic mobility of collagen molecules toward the isoelectric point where molecules are compacted. Our earlier work used linear electrodes to fabricate highly aligned crosslinked collagen fibers for tendon tissue engineering [1–4]. Prior work compared electrocompacted-aligned matrices with uncompacted randomly oriented ones. Therefore, the effects of alignment and compaction were compounded in terms of assessing cell response. So as to take the matrix alignment variable out of the picture to investigate matrix compaction effects only, we employed disc shaped electrodes to obtain electrocompacted sheets which lack matrix alignment. The current study investigated: a) the degree of compaction, b) effect of compaction on the mechanical properties of the sheets, and, c) mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) proliferation and morphology on compacted sheets relative to uncompacted collagen gels.

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