Probing Local Force Propagation in Tensed Fibrous Gels

Shahar Goren, Maayan Levin, Guy Brand, Ayelet Lesman*, Raya Sorkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fibrous hydrogels are a key component of soft animal tissues. They support cellular functions and facilitate efficient mechanical communication between cells. Due to their nonlinear mechanical properties, fibrous materials display non-trivial force propagation at the microscale, that is enhanced compared to that of linear-elastic materials. In the body, tissues are constantly subjected to external loads that tense or compress them, modifying their micro-mechanical properties into an anisotropic state. However, it is unknown how force propagation is modified by this isotropic-to-anisotropic transition. Here, force propagation in tensed fibrin hydrogels is directly measured. Local perturbations are induced by oscillating microspheres using optical tweezers. 1-point and 2-point microrheology are combined to simultaneously measure the shear modulus and force propagation. A mathematical framework to quantify anisotropic force propagation trends is suggested. Results show that force propagation becomes anisotropic in tensed gels, with, surprisingly, stronger response to perturbations perpendicular to the axis of tension. Importantly, external tension can also increase the range of force transmission. Possible implications and future directions for research are discussed. These results suggest a mechanism for favored directions of mechanical communication between cells in a tissue under external loads.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2202573
JournalSmall
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Jan 2023

Funding

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1289/20, 1474/16
Israeli Centers for Research Excellence1902/12

    Keywords

    • fibrin
    • force propagation
    • mechanical cell communication
    • microrheology
    • tension

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