A physically motivated constitutive model for cell-mediated compaction and collagen remodeling in soft tissues

Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2014 Oct;13(5):985-1001. doi: 10.1007/s10237-013-0549-1. Epub 2013 Dec 27.


Collagen is the main load-bearing component of many soft tissues and has a large influence on the mechanical behavior of tissues when exposed to mechanical loading. Therefore, it is important to increase our understanding of collagen remodeling in soft tissues to understand the mechanisms behind pathologies and to control the development of the collagen network in engineered tissues. In the present study, a constitutive model was developed by coupling a recently developed model describing the orientation and contractile stresses exerted by cells in response to mechanical stimuli to physically motivated collagen remodeling laws. In addition, cell-mediated contraction of the collagen fibers was included as a mechanism for tissue compaction. The model appeared to be successful in predicting a range of experimental observations, which are (1) the change in transition stretch of periosteum after remodeling at different applied stretches, (2) the compaction and alignment of collagen fibers in tissue-engineered strips, (3) the fiber alignment in cruciform gels with different arm widths, and (4) the alignment of collagen fibers in engineered vascular grafts. Moreover, by changing the boundary conditions, the model was able to predict a helical architecture in the vascular graft without assuming the presence of two helical fiber families a priori. Ultimately, this model may help to increase our understanding of collagen remodeling in physiological and pathological conditions, and it may provide a tool for determining the optimal experimental conditions for obtaining native-like collagen architectures in engineered tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Collagen