(282d) Deposition Of Oriented Collagen From A Nematic State: Orienting Fibroblasts

Kirkwood, J. E., University of Delaware
Rajadas, J., Stanford University

Collagen is one of the most important and abundant proteins in the human body and is present in skin, cartilage, and bone. The structure of collagen on a molecular level is that of a thin rod constructed of 3 polypeptide strands twisted together into a triple helix. When collagen is held in highly concentrated acidic solutions the solution exhibits the behavior of a nematic liquid crystal with a high degree of orientation. The focus of this work is to create a biocompatible substrate with the ability to control cell orientation and proliferation through the structure of collagen. These novel substrates are created by precisely depositing a solution of highly concentrated collagen with a robotic arm on a variety of materials. The organization of the collagen can be quantified using AFM and optical techniques to express the degree and uniformity of the orientation. The deposition technique allows the addition of growth factors and fillers with mechanical or structural properties to the collagen while still presenting an oriented surface. The response of fibroblast cells to an oriented collagen matrix has been shown to result in a high degree of orientation with a stretching of the cells in the direction of orientation. The goal is developing a better understanding of the ability of cells to recognize the oriented collagen and determine how this can be used for greater control over the cellular behavior.