Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 577–587 | Cite as

Local distribution of collagen fibers determines crack initiation site and its propagation direction during aortic rupture

  • Shukei SugitaEmail author
  • Takeo Matsumoto
Original Paper


Although elucidation of the mechanism of aortic aneurysm rupture is important, the characteristics of crack initiation and propagation sites remain unknown. To determine the microscopic properties of these sites, the characteristics of local strains and constituents at crack initiation and propagation sites were investigated during biaxial stretching of porcine thoracic aortas (PTAs). PTAs were sliced into approximately 50-\(\upmu \hbox {m}\)-thick sections, and the center of the sections was made especially thin using our previously developed technique. Alpha-elastin and cell nuclei were fluorescently labeled as indices of local elastin density and as a strain marker, respectively. Birefringence and second harmonic generation (SHG) light images were used to determine local collagen distributions. The specimens were then stretched biaxially with a laboratory-made tensile tester under a fluorescent microscope equipped with a birefringence imaging system. Local strains were calculated from the local displacement of the cell nuclei. The degree of alignment and density of local collagen fibers were measured from retardance and SHG images. The strain distributions, specifically the first and second principal, and maximum shear strains, fluorescent intensity of \(\upalpha \)-elastin, and degree of alignment of collagen fibers, showed insignificant differences between the crack initiation sites and other sites. The retardance and intensity of SHG light at the crack initiation sites were significantly lower than those at other sites for all (\(n = 6\)) specimens. Cracks tended to propagate along the local direction of the collagen fibers. These results indicate that the local density and direction of collagen fibers play an important role in aorta rupture.


Thoracic aorta Biaxial stretch rupture Local composition Second harmonic imaging microscopy Birefringence imaging microscopy 



This work was supported in part by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI (Nos. 26709002 and 15H02209) and AMED-CREST from Japan Agency for Medical Research and development, AMED (16gm0810005h0102). The authors acknowledge Dr. K. Nagayama for their help and discussion during experiments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10237_2017_979_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 14777 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Graduate School of EngineeringNagoya Institute of TechnologyNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Systems Engineering, Graduate School of EngineeringNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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