Characterization of the role of collagen network structure and composition in cancer cell migration

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2015 Aug;2015:8139-42. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320283.


The geometry of 3D collagen networks is a key factor that influences the behavior of live cells within extra-cellular matrices. This paper presents a method for automatic quantification of the 3D collagen network geometry with fiber resolution in confocal reflection microscopy images. The proposed method is based on a smoothing filter and binarization of the collagen network followed by a fiber reconstruction algorithm. The method is validated on 3D collagen gels with various collagen and Matrigel concentrations. The results reveal that Matrigel affects the collagen network geometry by decreasing the network pore size while preserving the fiber length and fiber persistence length. The influence of network composition and geometry, especially pore size, is preliminarily analyzed by quantifying the migration patterns of lung cancer cells within microfluidic devices filled with three different hydrogel types. The experiments reveal that Matrigel, while decreasing pore size, stimulates cell migration. Further studies on this relationship could be instrumental for the study of cancer metastasis and other biological processes involving cell migration.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Collagen
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neoplasms*


  • Collagen