Angiogenic responses are enhanced in mechanically and microscopically characterized, microbial transglutaminase crosslinked collagen matrices with increased stiffness. Academic Article uri icon


  • During angiogenesis, endothelial cells (ECs) use both soluble and insoluble cues to expand the existing vascular network to meet the changing trophic needs of the tissue. Fundamental to this expansion are physical interactions between ECs and extracellular matrix (ECM) that influence sprout migration, lumen formation and stabilization. These physical interactions suggest that ECM mechanical properties may influence sprouting ECs and, therefore, angiogenic responses. In a three-dimensional angiogenic model in which a monolayer of ECs is induced to invade an underlying collagen matrix, angiogenic responses were measured as a function of collagen matrix stiffness by inducing collagen crosslinking with microbial transglutaminase (mTG). By biaxial mechanical testing, stiffer collagen matrices were measured with both mTG treatment and incubation time. Using two-photon excited fluorescence (TPF) and second harmonic generation (SHG), it was shown that collagen TPF intensity increased with mTG treatment, and the TPF/SHG ratio correlated with biaxially tested mechanical stiffness. SHG and OCM were further used to show that other ECM physical properties such as porosity and pore size did not change with mTG treatment, thus verifying that matrix stiffness was tuned independently of matrix density. The results showed that stiffer matrices promote more angiogenic sprouts that invade deeper. No differences in lumen size were observed between control and mTG stiffened matrices, but greater remodeling was revealed in stiffer gels using SHG and OCM. The results of this study show that angiogenic responses are influenced by stiffness and suggest that ECM properties may be useful in regenerative medicine applications to engineer angiogenesis.

published proceedings

  • Acta Biomater

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, P., Bai, Y., Smith, R. L., Bayless, K. J., & Yeh, A. T.

citation count

  • 42

complete list of authors

  • Lee, P-F||Bai, Y||Smith, RL||Bayless, KJ||Yeh, AT

publication date

  • July 2013