With the current development of non-invasive diagnostics to more accurately measure the level of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) clinically, a significant """"""""platform science"""""""" component is better mechanistic understanding of underlying physics, such as structure-function mechanics of the arterial wall. Much of this fundamental understanding comes from the development and study of models for biomechanics, which will provide guidance for developing diagnostics, and implementation of these diagnostics to the clinical setting in turn provides data for refining the physics models. In this project, we seek to develop a multiscale predictive mechanobiology model of extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanics from a fundamental mechanics perspective coupled with critical biophysical input, and to provide a clinical relevant relationship between biomechanical integrity, biochemical composition stability, and microstructure of the ECM. Such model will enable researchers and clinicians to probe basic mechanisms, and to assist in rational design of new therapies for CVD.
Specific Aim 1 : Create a multiscale predictive mechanobiology model of ECM mechanics. Molecular - fiber level: a statistical mechanics based approach is adopted to determine the strain energy change accompanying deformation of a single fiber. A freely joined chain (FJC) model will be adopted to describe the possible configurations, thus entropy, of a fiber during stretching. Inter-molecular cross-linking density is a material parameter that determines the extensibility of a single fiber. Fiber - tissue level: advance the fiber-level model into a tissue-level model by incorporating fiber distribution function and adding fiber density as the next set of material parameter. A multiscale mechanobiological model that incorporates inter-molecular cross-linking, fiber distribution and fiber density will be achieved for the description of tissue-level function.
Specific Aim 2 : Validation of the model using an integrated experimental - modeling approach. Tissue-level ECM mechanics: the tissue-level behavior of ECM network will be fully characterized using biaxial-tensile test. Elastin and collagen network will be isolated from aortic tissue and tested individually. Fiber distribution function: the fiber orientation information of elastin and collagen will be obtained using confocal microscopy and directly incorporated into the model. Fiber density and cross-linking: the content and crosslinking density of elastin and collagen will be measured biochemically through biological assay. Corresponding material parameters in the model will be determined from fits to the biaxial-tensile testing data. 1
In this project, we seek to develop a multiscale predictive mechanobiology model for the study of extracellular matrix mechanics from a fundamental mechanics perspective coupled with critical biophysical input. The proposed work will be accomplished through two specific aims that couple modeling and experimental work for a complete model development and validation. Results from this research will provide clinical relevant relationship between biomechanical integrity, biochemical composition stability, and microstructure of the ECM. 1
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