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The main propose of this study is to characterize the impact of chronological aging on mechanical, structural, biochemical, and morphological properties of type I collagen. We have developed an original approach combining a stress-strain measurement device with a portable Raman spectrometer to enable simultaneous measurement of Raman spectra during stress vs strain responses of young adult, adult and old rat tail tendon fascicles (RTTFs). Our data showed an increase in all mechanical properties such as Young's modulus, yield strength, and ultimate tensile strength with aging. At the molecular level, Raman data revealed that the most relevant frequency shift was observed at 938 cm-1 in Old RTTFs, which is assigned to the C-C. This suggested a long axis deformation of the peptide chains in Old RTTFs during tensile stress. In addition, the intensity of the band at 872 cm-1, corresponding to hydroxyproline decreased for young adult RTTFs and increased for the adult ones, while it remained unchanged for Old RTTFs during tensile stress. The amide III band (1242 and 1265 cm-1) as well as the band ratios I1631/ I1663 and I1645 / I1663 responses to tensile stress were depending on mechanical phases (toe, elastic and plastic). The quantification of advanced glycation end-products by LC-MS/MS and spectrofluorometry showed an increase in their content with aging. This suggested that the accumulation of such products was correlated to the alterations observed in the mechanical and molecular properties of RTTFs. Analysis of the morphological properties of RTTFs by SHG combined with CT-FIRE software revealed an increase in length and straightness of collagen fibers, whereas their width and wavy fraction decreased. Our integrated study model could be useful to provide additional translational information to monitor progression of diseases related to collagen remodeling in musculoskeletal disorders. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Type I collagen is the major component of the extracellular matrix. Its architectural and structural organization plays an important role in the mechanical properties of many tissues at the physiological and pathological levels. The objective of this work is to develop an integrated approach to bring a new insight on the impact of chronological aging on the structural organization and mechanical properties of type I collagen. We combined a portable Raman spectrometer with a mechanical tensile testing device in order to monitor in real time the changes in the Raman fingerprint of type I collagen fibers during the mechanical stress. Raman spectroscopy allowed the identification of the type I collagen bonds that were affected by mechanical stress in a differential manner with aging. Copyright © 2021 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Laurence Van Gulick, Charles Saby, Stéphane Jaisson, Anaïs Okwieka, Philippe Gillery, Emilie Dervin, Hamid Morjani, Abdelilah Beljebbar. An integrated approach to investigate age-related modifications of morphological, mechanical and structural properties of type I collagen. Acta biomaterialia. 2022 Jan 01;137:64-78

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PMID: 34673231

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