Yang, L. Mechanical properties of native and cross-linked type I collagen fibrils

Yang, Lanti, Werf, K.O. van der, Fitie, C.F.C., Bennink, M.L., Dijkstra, P.J. & Feijen, J

Biophysical journal, 94, 2204-2211

Micromechanical bending experiments using atomic force microscopy were performed to study the mechanical properties of native and carbodiimide-cross-linked single collagen fibrils. Fibrils obtained from a suspension of insoluble collagen type I isolated from bovine Achilles tendon were deposited on a glass substrate containing microchannels. Force-displacement curves recorded at multiple positions along the collagen fibril were used to assess the bending modulus. By fitting the slope of the force-displacement curves recorded at ambient conditions to a model describing the bending of a rod, bending moduli ranging from 1.0 GPa to 3.9 GPa were determined. From a model for anisotropic materials, the shear modulus of the fibril is calculated to be 33 ± 2 MPa at ambient conditions. When fibrils are immersed in phosphate-buffered saline, their bending and shear modulus decrease to 0.07–0.17 GPa and 2.9 ± 0.3 MPa, respectively. The two orders of magnitude lower shear modulus compared with the Young's modulus confirms the mechanical anisotropy of the collagen single fibrils. Cross-linking the collagen fibrils with a water-soluble carbodiimide did not significantly affect the bending modulus. The shear modulus of these fibrils, however, changed to 74 ± 7 MPa at ambient conditions and to 3.4 ± 0.2 MPa in phosphate-buffered saline.