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Control of collagen gel mechanical properties through manipulation of gelation conditions near the sol–gel transition
Soft Matter, Volume: 14, Pages: 574 - 580
Swansea University Authors: Karl Hawkins , Christopher Wright , Rhodri Williams , Daniel Curtis
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DOI (Published version): 10.1039/C7SM01933E
The ability to control the mechanical properties of cell culture environments is known to influence cell morphology, motility, invasion and differentiation. The present work shows that it is possible to control the mechanical properties of collagen gels by manipulating gelation conditions near the s...
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The ability to control the mechanical properties of cell culture environments is known to influence cell morphology, motility, invasion and differentiation. The present work shows that it is possible to control the mechanical properties of collagen gels by manipulating gelation conditions near the sol gel transition. This manipulation is accomplished by performing gelation in two stages at different temperatures. The mechanical properties of the gel are found to be strongly dependent on the duration and temperature of the first stage. In the second stage the system is quickly depleted of free collagen which self assembles into a highly branched network characteristic of gelation at the higher temperature (37 °C). An important aspect of the present work is the use of advanced rheometric techniques to assess the transition point between viscoelastic liquid and viscoelastic solid behaviour which occurs upon establishment of a sample spanning network at the gel point. The gel time at the stage I temperature is found to indicate the minimum time that the gelling collagen sample must spend under stage I conditions before the two stage gelation procedure generates an enhancement of mechanical properties. Further, the Fractional Maxwell Model is found to provide an excellent description of the time-dependent mechanical properties of the mature collagen gels.
Faculty of Science and Engineering