Multiscale model predicts tissue-level failure from collagen fiber-level damage

J Biomech Eng. 2012 Sep;134(9):091005. doi: 10.1115/1.4007097.


Excessive tissue-level forces communicated to the microstructure and extracellular matrix of soft tissues can lead to damage and failure through poorly understood physical processes that are multiscale in nature. In this work, we propose a multiscale mechanical model for the failure of collagenous soft tissues that incorporates spatial heterogeneity in the microstructure and links the failure of discrete collagen fibers to the material response of the tissue. The model, which is based on experimental failure data derived from different collagen gel geometries, was able to predict the mechanical response and failure of type I collagen gels, and it demonstrated that a fiber-based rule (at the micrometer scale) for discrete failure can strongly shape the macroscale failure response of the gel (at the millimeter scale). The model may be a useful tool in predicting the macroscale failure conditions for soft tissues and engineered tissue analogs. In addition, the multiscale model provides a framework for the study of failure in complex fiber-based mechanical systems in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Collagen Type I