Mechanical loading protocols in tissue engineering (TE) aim to improve the deposition of a properly organized collagen fiber network. In addition to collagen remodeling, these conditioning protocols can result in tissue compaction. Tissue compaction is beneficial to tissue collagen alignment, yet it may lead to a loss of functionality of the TE construct due to changes in geometry after culture. Here, a mathematical model is presented to relate the changes in collagen architecture to the local compaction within a TE small blood vessel, assuming that under static conditions, compaction is the main factor responsible for collagen fiber organization. An existing structurally based model is extended to incorporate volumetric tissue compaction. Subsequently, the model is applied to describe the collagen architecture of TE constructs under either strain based or stress based stimulus functions. Our computations indicate that stress based simulations result in a helical collagen fiber distribution along the vessel wall. The helix pitch angle increases from a circumferential direction in the inner wall, over about 45 deg in the middle vessel layer, to a longitudinal direction in the outer wall. These results are consistent with experimental data from TE small diameter blood vessels. In addition, our results suggest a stress dependent remodeling of the collagen, suggesting that cell traction is responsible for collagen orientation. These findings may be of value to design improved mechanical conditioning protocols to optimize the collagen architecture in engineered tissues.

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