Hydrogels are used for 3D in vitro
assays and tissue engineering and regeneration purposes. For a thorough interpretation of this technology, an integral biomechanical characterization of the materials is required. In this work, we characterize the mechanical and functional behavior of two specific hydrogels that play critical roles in wound healing, collagen and fibrin. A coherent and complementary characterization was performed using a generalized and standard composition of each hydrogel and a combination of techniques. Microstructural analysis was performed by scanning electron microscopy and confocal reflection imaging. Permeability was measured using a microfluidic-based experimental set-up, and mechanical responses were analyzed by rheology. We measured a pore size of 2.84 and 1.69 μm for collagen and fibrin, respectively. Correspondingly, the permeability of the gels was 1.00·10−12
. The shear modulus in the linear viscoelastic regime was 15 Pa for collagen and 300 Pa for fibrin. The gels exhibited strain-hardening behavior at ca.
10% and 50% strain for fibrin and collagen, respectively. This consistent biomechanical characterization provides a detailed and robust starting point for different 3D in vitro
bioapplications, such as collagen and/or fibrin gels. These features may have major implications for 3D cellular behavior by inducing divergent microenvironmental cues.
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