Non-destructive label-free monitoring of collagen gel remodeling using optical coherence tomography

David Levitz, Monica T. Hinds, Ardi Ardeshiri, Stephen R. Hanson, Steven L. Jacques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Matrix remodeling plays a fundamental role in physiological and pathological processes, as well as in tissue engineering applications. In this paper, optical coherence tomography (OCT), a non-destructive optical imaging technology, was used to image collagen gel remodeling by smooth muscle cells (SMCs). The optical scattering properties of collagen-SMC gels were characterized quantitatively by fitting OCT data to a theoretical model. Matrix remodeling over 5 days produced a 10-fold increase in the reflectivity of the collagen gels, corresponding to a decrease in scattering anisotropy from 0.91 to 0.46. The increase in reflectivity was corroborated in confocal mosaic images. Blocking matrix degradation in collagen-SMC gels with doxycycline, a non-specific matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) inhibitor, impeded the decrease in scattering anisotropy and resulted in few macroscopic signs of remodeling. Causing matrix degradation in acellular gels with a 3 h treatment of MMP-8 (collagenase 2) partially mimicked the decrease in anisotropy measured in collagen-SMC gels after 5 days. These results suggest that the decrease in scattering anisotropy in the collagen-SMC gels was due to MMP activity that degrades collagen fibrils into smaller fragments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8210-8217
Number of pages8
Issue number32
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Collagen
  • ECM (extracellular matrix)
  • Matrix metalloproteinases
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Smooth muscle cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


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