Characterization of spontaneous collagen fibrillogenesis in a cell-free and tension-free environment


  • Conflict of interest: none declared.

Correspondence: Dr Gerald E. Piérard, Department of Dermatopathology, CHU Sart Tilman, BE-4000 Liège, Belgium



The collagen fibril packing that forms threads and bundles is poorly defined, despite the fact that it is important for distinct aspects of the adventitial and reticular dermis. The present study explored an in vitro fibrillogenesis model using the property of heat polymerization. The process was performed on glass slides with mixtures of collagen I and III, and the material was viewed by scanning electron microscopy. In all instances, collagen I and III formed fibrils with regular sizes. The formation of threads was influenced by the relative proportions of collagen I and III; increasing the relative proportion of collagen I resulted in the formation of threads showing increasing variations in thickness. These findings are in line with the differential presentation and compositions of the different parts of the dermis. The possible interventions of stromal cells and of other macromoleules of the extracellular matrix were not considered in this study.