, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 245-253

Effects of fibronectin and laminin on structural, mechanical and transport properties of 3D collageneous network

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Recent studies, on cells cultured in 3D collagen gels, have shown that, beside from their well known biochemical role, fibronectin (FN) and laminin (LM) affect cell functions via a modification of mechanical and structural properties of matrix due to interaction with collagen molecules. Though biochemical properties of FN and LM have been widely studied, little is known about their role in collagen matrix assembly. The aim of this work was to characterize FN- and LM-based collagen semi-interpenetrating polymer networks (semi-IPNs), in order to understand how these biomacromolecular species can affect collagen network assembly and properties. Morphology, viscoelasticity and diffusivity of collagen gels and FN- and LM-based collagen semi-IPNs were analysed by Confocal Laser Scanning microscopy (CLSM), Environmental Scanning Electron microscopy (ESEM), Transmission Electron microscopy (TEM), Rheometry and Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) techniques. It was found that FN and LM were organized in aggregates, interspersed in collagen gel, and in thin fibrils, distributed along collagen fibres. In addition, high FN and LM concentrations affected collagen fibre assembly and structure and induced drastic effects on rheological and transport properties.