Mechanical strain alters gene expression in an in vitro model of hypertrophic scarring

Christopher A. Derderian, Nicholas Bastidas, Oren Z. Lerman, Kirit A. Bhatt, Shin E. Lin, Jeremy Voss, Jeffrey W. Holmes, Jamie P. Levine, Geoffrey C. Gurtner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Fibroblasts represent a highly mechanoresponsive cell type known to play key roles in normal and pathologic processes such as wound healing, joint contracture, and hypertrophic scarring. In this study, we used a novel fibroblast-populated collagen lattice (FPCL) isometric tension model, allowing us to apply graded biaxial loads to dermal fibroblasts in a 3-dimensional matrix. Cell morphology demonstrated dose-dependent transition from round cells lacking stress fibers in nonloaded lattices to a broad, elongated morphology with prominent actin stress fibers in 800-mg-loaded lattices. Using quantitative real-time RT-PCR, a dose dependent induction of both collagen-1 and collagen-3 mRNA up to 2.8- and 3-fold, respectively, as well as a 2.5-fold induction of MMP-1 (collagenase) over unloaded FPCLs was observed. Quantitative expression of the proapoptotic gene Bax was down-regulated over 4-fold in mechanically strained FPCLs. These results suggest that mechanical strain up-regulates matrix remodeling genes and down-regulates normal cellular apoptosis, resulting in more cells, each of which produces more matrix. This "double burden" may underlie the pathophysiology of hypertrophic scars and other fibrotic processes in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2005


  • Matrix proteins
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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