Pattern selection in growing tubular tissues

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Dec 12;113(24):248101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.248101. Epub 2014 Dec 9.


Tubular organs display a wide variety of surface morphologies including circumferential and longitudinal folds, square and hexagonal undulations, and finger-type protrusions. Surface morphology is closely correlated to tissue function and serves as a clinical indicator for physiological and pathological conditions, but the regulators of surface morphology remain poorly understood. Here, we explore the role of geometry and elasticity on the formation of surface patterns. We establish morphological phase diagrams for patterns selection and show that increasing the thickness or stiffness ratio between the outer and inner tubular layers induces a gradual transition from circumferential to longitudinal folding. Our results suggest that physical forces act as regulators during organogenesis and give rise to the characteristic circular folds in the esophagus, the longitudinal folds in the valves of Kerckring, the surface networks in villi, and the crypts in the large intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Intestine, Large / anatomy & histology*
  • Intestine, Large / growth & development*
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics