Spatial orientation of collagen fibers in the abdominal aortic aneurysm's wall and its relation to wall mechanics
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Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals and provides the abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) wall with mechanical strength, stiffness and toughness. Specifically, the spatial orientation of collagen fibers in the wall has a major impact on its mechanical properties. Apart from valuable microhistological information, this data can be integrated by histomechanical constitutive models thought to improve biomechanical simulations, i.e. to improve the biomechanical rupture risk assessment of AAAs. Tissue samples (n = 24) from the AAA wall were harvested during elective AAA repair, fixated, embedded, sectioned and investigated by polarized light microscopy. The birefringent properties of collagen were reinforced by picrosirius red staining and the three-dimensional collagen fiber orientations were identified with a universal rotary stage. Two constitutive models for collagen fibers were used to integrate the identified structural information in a macroscopic AAA wall model. The collagen fiber orientation in the AAA wall was widely dispersed and could be captured by a Bingham distribution function (κ1=11.6,κ2=9.7)(κ1=11.6,κ2=9.7). The dispersion was much larger in the tangential plane than in the cross-sectional plane, and no significant difference between the medial and adventitial layers could be identified. The layered directional organization of collagen in normal aortas was not evident in the AAA. The collagen organization identified, combined with constitutive descriptions of collagen fibers that depend on its orientation, explain the anisotropic (orthotropic) mechanical properties of the AAA wall. The mechanical properties of collagen fibers depend largely on their undulation, which is an important structural parameter that requires further experimental investigation.
CitationGasser, T. [et al.]. Spatial orientation of collagen fibers in the abdominal aortic aneurysm's wall and its relation to wall mechanics. "Acta biomaterialia", Agost 2012, vol. 8, núm. 8, p. 3091-3103.