Fibroblast-mediated compaction of collagen gels attracts extensive attention in studies of wound healing, cellular fate processes, and regenerative medicine. However, the underlying mechanism and the cellular mechanical niche still remain obscure. This study examines the mechanical behaviour of collagen fibrils during the process of compaction from an alternative perspective on the primary mechanical interaction, providing a new viewpoint on the behaviour of populated fibroblasts. We classify the collagen fibrils into three types - bent, stretched, and adherent - and deduce the respective equations governing the mechanical behaviour of each type; in particular, from a putative principle based on the stationary state of the instantaneous Hamiltonian of the mechanotransduction system, we originally quantify the stretching force exerted on each stretched fibrils. Via careful verification of a structural elementary model based on this classification, we demonstrate a clear physical picture of the compaction process, quantitatively elucidate the panorama of the micro mechanical niche and reveal an intrinsic biphasic relationship between cellular traction force and matrix elasticity. Our results also infer the underlying mechanism of tensional homoeostasis and stress shielding of fibroblasts. With this study, and sequel investigations on the putative principle proposed herein, we anticipate a refocus of the research on cellular mechanobiology, in vitro and in vivo.
|Published - 2014 9月
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