Modulation of 3D fibrin matrix stiffness by intrinsic fibrinogen-thrombin compositions and by extrinsic cellular activity

Tissue Eng Part A. 2009 Jul;15(7):1865-76. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0319.


Fibrin is a substance formed through catalytic conversion of coagulation constituents: fibrinogen and thrombin. The kinetics of the two constituents determines the structural properties of the fibrin architecture. We have shown previously that changing the fibrinogen and thrombin concentrations in the final three-dimensional (3D) fibrin matrix influenced cell proliferation and differentiation. In this study, we further examined the effect of changing fibrinogen and thrombin concentrations in the absence or presence of fibroblasts on the structural modulus or stiffness of 3D fibrin matrices. We have prepared fibroblast-free and fibroblast-embedded 3D fibrin matrices of different fibrinogen and thrombin formulations, and tested the stiffness of these constructs using standard mechanical testing assays. Results showed that there was a corresponding increase in stiffness with increasing thrombin and fibrinogen concentrations; the increase was more notable with fibrinogen and to a lesser degree with thrombin. The effect of fibroblasts on the stiffness of the fibrin construct was also examined. We have observed a small increase in the stiffness of the fibroblast-incorporated fibrin construct as they proliferated and exhibited spreading morphology. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive report detailing the relationship between fibrinogen and thrombin concentrations, cell proliferation, and stiffness in 3D fibrin matrices. The data obtained may lead to optimally design suitable bioscaffolds where we can control both cell proliferation and structural integrity for a variety of tissue engineering applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / drug effects
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects*
  • Fibrin / pharmacology*
  • Fibrinogen / pharmacology*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Thrombin / pharmacology*


  • Fibrin
  • Fibrinogen
  • Thrombin