View Full Version : What is a collagen fiber?

Dr. Michael S. Sacks
04-15-1998, 12:39 PM
A few days back I asked several collegues of mine what the average
diameter and crimp geometry of a collagen fiber was for bovine
pericardium. Most did not know. Only J. Michael Lee of Dalhousie Univ in
Nova Scotia was able to give me a good response. However, what Michael
said, if I may paraphrase his answer here, was that collagen fibers are
hard to define precisely in general for pericardium, and vary considerably
according to species. Our experience also has shown that variations in
what fibers are can potentially vary with the method used to visualize
them. In my experience with bovine pericardium, we have used serial
sections (~20 microns thick) to allow for very clear visualization of
"fibers." Our observations suggest that a fiber is a collection of
fibrils that have the following characteristics:

1 - Appear to be bound together in a tightly packed unit.
2 - All have the same orientation, and are in fact very highly aligned
parallel to the fiber axis
3 - All have similar crimp periods and amplitudes, with the crimp in phase.
4 - Appear to be meso-structurally discrete from the other fibers.

However, we also see a great deal of varibility, or, as my graduate
students are fond of saying: "tell me what you want and I will find it for
you..." My question for the biomechanics community is simply this: what
do you find for other tissues and do you agree/disagree with the above
defintions? Further, are there other structural features you may feel
need to be added to the list? I would prefer to keep this discussion open
and not limited to specific tissues, although it most likely pertains to
those containing primarily collagen type I. I am particularly interested
in tissues other than tendon and ligaments, which have been fairly well
characterized. I will, of course, post all replys.

Thanks in advance!

Michael Sacks

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Michael S. Sacks,Ph.D. " I am only flesh and blood,
Assistant Professor and of course collagen."
Department of Biomedical Engineering
POB 248294 -New Yorker Magazine comic
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL 33124-0621
Voice (305) 284-5434
Fax (305) 284-6494
email: msacks@coeds.eng.miami.edu
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