Ex vivo multiscale quantitation of skin biomechanics in wild-type and genetically-modified mice using multiphoton microscopy

Sci Rep. 2015 Dec 3:5:17635. doi: 10.1038/srep17635.


Soft connective tissues such as skin, tendon or cornea are made of about 90% of extracellular matrix proteins, fibrillar collagens being the major components. Decreased or aberrant collagen synthesis generally results in defective tissue mechanical properties as the classic form of Elhers-Danlos syndrome (cEDS). This connective tissue disorder is caused by mutations in collagen V genes and is mainly characterized by skin hyperextensibility. To investigate the relationship between the microstructure of normal and diseased skins and their macroscopic mechanical properties, we imaged and quantified the microstructure of dermis of ex vivo murine skin biopsies during uniaxial mechanical assay using multiphoton microscopy. We used two genetically-modified mouse lines for collagen V: a mouse model for cEDS harboring a Col5a2 deletion (a.k.a. pN allele) and the transgenic K14-COL5A1 mice which overexpress the human COL5A1 gene in skin. We showed that in normal skin, the collagen fibers continuously align with stretch, generating the observed increase in mechanical stress. Moreover, dermis from both transgenic lines exhibited altered collagen reorganization upon traction, which could be linked to microstructural modifications. These findings show that our multiscale approach provides new crucial information on the biomechanics of dermis that can be extended to all collagen-rich soft tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Collagen Type V / genetics
  • Dermis / physiopathology
  • Dermis / ultrastructure
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / genetics
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Photons
  • Skin / physiopathology*


  • Collagen Type V
  • Collagen