Collagen characterization in biomaterials

Effects of crosslinking on structure-mechanical property relationships in collagen gels, mineralized constructs, and bone
Increasing evidence indicates that collagen properties are altered with age and osteoporosis and play an important role in skeletal fragility. However tools for imaging and characterizing collagen lag behind those for characterizing bone mineral. The goals of this project are to establish microstructure-property relationships in fibrilar collagen gels, mineralized constructs, and bone as a function of crosslink chemistry; and to develop nondestructive measures of collagen crosslinking.

Primary cilia, cells, and collagen extracellular matrix in tendon
Skeletal tissues are sensitive to their mechanical environments and respond to changes in external forces by modulating gene expression, cell metabolism, and extracellular matrix (ECM) architecture. Bone, cartilage, and tendon require moderate loading for tissue homeostasis, while loads outside the normal physiologic range are associated with tissue degradation. However, the mechanosensory mechanisms for these processes are incompletely understood. Over the past decade primary cilia have emerged as crucial components of the cellular mechanosensory system, but their function in skeletal tissues is just beginning to be examined. Recent studies of cultured bone cells have shown that primary cilia are essential for key cellular bone formation and resorption responses to dynamic fluid flow. In addition, primary cilia have been hypothesized to play a role in establishing the orientation of cells and their secreted ECM molecules; therefore, the orientation of the primary cilium may relate to the establishment of anisotropic ECM organization in skeletal tissues.