Improving the Understanding of Macro-Mechanics of Agarose and Collagen Hydrogels for Further Development in Regenerative Medicine

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The Ohio State University

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Understanding material mechanical properties help materials scientists and engineers determine the best suited uses for a specific material. Engineering functional tissues in regenerative medicine is highly dependent on the structural and mechanical integrity of Extracellular Matrix (ECM). Currently scientists and engineers are looking to further their understanding of natural polymer responses to in vivo mechanical forces, such that these natural polymers can be utilized to engineer in vitro ECM models. This research focuses on (1) an analysis of mechanical properties of agarose and collagen hydrogels through uniaxial tensile testing and Rheometry testing and (2) effects of NIH3T3 fibroblasts on collagen hydrogels via gel contraction testing. Together, these mechanical factors give insight into how collagen would react to various mechanical stimulations found in an in vivo environment. Poisson’s ratio, Young’s modulus and shear stress were determined from stress and strain data collected during uniaxial and rheological testing. Gels at this time contained no cells. During time of mechanical testing a unique Poisson’s Ratio verification technique was developed in order to eliminate the current deficiency of methodological verification in the materials science industry. Once material properties were determined and verified, cells were added to the collagen hydrogels to assess the effect of cells on mechanical properties of the hydrogels. Percent shrinkage was determined from gel contraction test image analysis. Normalized diameter data demonstrated expected shrinkage occurred over the course of 7 days. This experimental data can help to further develop the use of collagen hydrogels as a suitable material for engineering functional tissue in the regenerative medicine industry.



Macro-mechanics, Collagen Hydrogels, Agarose Hydrogels, BioMaterials, Tissue Engineering