O.G. Andriotis, S. Dessissaire, P.J. Thurner:
"Collagen Fibrils: Nature's Highly Tunable Nonlinear Springs";
ACS Nano, 12 (2018), S. 3671 - 3680.

Kurzfassung englisch:
Tissue hydration is well known to influence tissue mechanics and can be tuned via osmotic pressure. Collagen fibrils are nature´s nanoscale building blocks to achieve biomechanical function in a broad range of biological tissues and across many species. Intrafibrillar covalent cross-links have long been thought to play a pivotal role in collagen fibril elasticity, but predominantly at large, far from physiological, strains. Performing nanotensile experiments of collagen fibrils at varying hydration levels by adjusting osmotic pressure in situ during atomic force microscopy experiments, we show the power the intrafibrillar noncovalent interactions have for defining collagen fibril tensile elasticity at low fibril strains. Nanomechanical tensile tests reveal that osmotic pressure increases collagen fibril stiffness up to 24-fold in transverse (nanoindentation) and up to 6-fold in the longitudinal direction (tension), compared to physiological saline in a reversible fashion. We attribute the stiffening to the density and strength of weak intermolecular forces tuned by hydration and hence collagen packing density. This reversible mechanism may be employed by cells to alter their mechanical microenvironment in a reversible manner. The mechanism could also be translated to tissue engineering approaches for customizing scaffold mechanics in spatially resolved fashion, and it may help explain local mechanical changes during development of diseases and inflammation.

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