Glutaraldehyde cross-linking of tendon mechanical effects at the level of the tendon fascicle and fibril

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Conclusive insight into the microscopic principles that govern the strength of tendon and related connective tissues is lacking and the importance of collagen cross-linking has not been firmly established. The combined application of whole-tissue mechanical testing and atomic force spectroscopy allowed for a detailed characterization of the effect of cross-linking in rat-tail tendon. The cross-link inducing agent glutaraldehyde augmented the tensile strength of tendon fascicles. Stress at failure increased from approximately 8 MPa to approximately 39 MPa. The mechanical effects of glutaraldehyde at the tendon fibril level were examined by atomic force microscopy. Peak forces increased from approximately 1379 to approximately 2622 pN while an extended Hertz fit of force-indentation data showed a approximately 24 fold increase in Young's modulus on indentation. The effect of glutaraldehyde cross-linking on the tensile properties of a single collagen fibril was investigated by a novel methodology based on atomic force spectroscopy. The Young's modulus of a secluded fibril increased from approximately 407 MPa to approximately 1.1 GPa with glutaraldehyde treatment. Collectively, the findings indicate that cross-linking at the level of the collagen fibril is of key importance for the mechanical strength of tendon tissue. However, when comparing the effects at the level of the tendon fascicle and fibril, respectively, further questions are prompted regarding the pathways of force through the tendon microstructure as fibril strength seems to surpass that of the tendon fascicle.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)211-22
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Animals, Collagen, Cross-Linking Reagents, Glutaral, Male, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Spectrum Analysis, Stress, Mechanical, Tendons, Tensile Strength

ID: 44914433