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Mechanical Models of Collagen Networks for Understanding Changes in the Failure Properties of Aging Skin
Nathan Witt 1, Alan Woessner 2, Jacob Herrmann 1, Kyle Quinn 2, Edward Sander 3
...One potential contributor to these [age-related skin] variations is the accumulation of non-enzymatic crosslinks within collagen fibers, which affect dermal collagen remodeling and mechanical properties. Specifically, these crosslinks make individual fibers stiffer in their plastic loading region and lead to increased fragmentation of the collagenous network. To better understand the influence of these changes, we investigated the impact of non-enzymatic crosslink changes on dermal microstructure using discrete fiber networks representative of the dermal microstructure. Our findings suggest that stiffening the plastic region of collagen's mechanical response has minimal effects on network-level stiffness and failure stresses. Conversely, simulating fragmentation through a loss of connectivity substantially reduces network stiffness and failure stress, while increasing stretch ratios at failure.