How to demonstrate tensing effect?

The dermis is largely composed of dense collagen-rich extracellular matrix (ECM). Dermal collagen represents by far the most abundant ECM protein and constitutes the bulk of skin.

Dermal connective tissue collagen is essentially responsible for the skin’s tensile strength and mechanical properties. In human skin dermis, collagen-rich ECM is synthesized, organized, and physically maintained by dermal fibroblasts.

During aging, dermal fibroblast show a progressive loss of its functions (synthesis, traction force, etc.) and dermal collagen fibrils undergo loss and fragmentation, leading to thin and structurally weakened skin.

DermoMeca®’s solutions

DermoMeca® proposes to characterize organization of collagen network, strenght of cell-matrix interaction and cell traction force.

Method : Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) allows to visualize and quantify the dynamics of cell-matrix interactions under physiological conditions at the cellular-scale.

The finished product or active ingredient can be added in situ and structural and mechanical properties are tracked during a timeline defined according clients request.

Biological models :

  • Cells grown on collagen lattice
  • Complex in vitro models : reconstructed skin models, skin explant, cryosection, etc.

Readouts :

  • Cell morphometry (area, perimeter, circularity, aspect ratio, etc.)
  • Morphometric parameters of collagen network (fiber density, fiber thickness, fiber orientation)
  • Morphometric parameters of collagen fibers (thickness, period measurement, etc.)
  • Network mechanical properties (tension, strain stiffening)
  • Cell mechanical properties (stiffness, elastic modulus, traction force)

Figure 1: A and A’: Optical imaging AFM of fibroblasts on a lattice of collagen.

B and B’: AFM images of collagen fibers in the region of a lamellipodium and in an isolated region.

C: Sparkline graphical analyzes of “aged” condition with and without actives compared to the “young” condition (“0”).


Figure 2 : A. Strain stiffening mapping of collagen network close to a fibroblast illustrating the traction force generated.

B. Quantitative study of traction force maps (elastic modulus (Ea)) under different conditions.

C. Study of tensile force generated at the level of fibroblasts under different conditions.



This solution highlights active ingredient’s effect on the morphology of aged fibroblasts and demonstrates weither the active ingredient allows aged fibroblast to partially recovers the morphometric characteristics and traction activity of “young” fibroblasts.

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