Collagen Fibril Orientation Instructs Fibroblast Differentiation Via Cell Contractility

Jiranuwat Sapudom, Shaza Karaman, Brian Chesney Quartey, Walaa Kamal Eldin Mohamed, Nick Mahtani, Anna Garcia-Sabaté, Jeremy Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Collagen alignment is one of the key microarchitectural signatures of many pathological conditions, including scarring and fibrosis. Investigating how collagen alignment modulates cellular functions will pave the way for understanding tissue scarring and regeneration and new therapeutic strategies. However, current approaches for the fabrication of three-dimensional (3D) aligned collagen matrices are low-throughput and require special devices. To overcome these limitations, a simple approach to reconstitute homogeneous 3D collagen matrices with adjustable degree of fibril alignment using 3D printed inclined surfaces is developed. By characterizing the mechanical properties of reconstituted matrices, it is found that the elastic modulus of collagen matrices is enhanced with an increase in the alignment degree. The reconstituted matrices are used to study fibroblast behavior to reveal the progression of scar formation where a gradual enhancement of collagen alignment can be observed. It is found that matrices with aligned fibrils trigger fibroblast differentiation into myofibroblasts via cell contractility, while collagen stiffening through a crosslinker does not. The results suggest the impact of collagen fibril organization on the regulation of fibroblast differentiation. Overall, this approach to reconstitute 3D collagen matrices with fibril alignment opens opportunities for biomimetic pathological-relevant tissue in vitro, which can be applied for other biomedical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2301353
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number22
StatePublished - Aug 4 2023


  • collagen alignment
  • extracellular matrix
  • fibroblast differentiation
  • fibrotic tissue
  • mechanobiology
  • myofibroblasts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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