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Data from: Collagen network strengthening following cyclic tensile loading

Cite this dataset

Susilo, Monica E. et al. (2016). Data from: Collagen network strengthening following cyclic tensile loading [Dataset]. Dryad.


The bulk mechanical properties of tissues are highly tuned to the physiological loads they experience and reflect the hierarchical structure and mechanical properties of their constituent parts. A thorough understanding of the processes involved in tissue adaptation is required to develop multi-scale computational models of tissue remodelling. While extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling is partly due to the changing cellular metabolic activity, there may also be mechanically directed changes in ECM nano/microscale organization which lead to mechanical tuning. The thermal and enzymatic stability of collagen, which is the principal load-bearing biopolymer in vertebrates, have been shown to be enhanced by force suggesting that collagen has an active role in ECM mechanical properties. Here, we ask how changes in the mechanical properties of a collagen-based material are reflected by alterations in the micro/nanoscale collagen network following cyclic loading. Surprisingly, we observed significantly higher tensile stiffness and ultimate tensile strength, roughly analogous to the effect of work hardening, in the absence of network realignment and alterations to the fibril area fraction. The data suggest that mechanical loading induces stabilizing changes internal to the fibrils themselves or in the fibril–fibril interactions. If such a cell-independent strengthening effect is operational in vivo, then it would be an important consideration in any multiscale computational approach to ECM growth and remodelling.

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