Glycation of collagen in decellularized pericardium tissue: pilot study

Images of three decellularized pericardium tissue samples, 4 × 8 mm2 each, incubated at increasing glucose concentration. The equatorial molecular distance d2=1.5 nm as fingerprint of the packing of collagen fibrils is analyzed at each point of the 2D raster scan across each sample. Color codes the orientation of the scattering, directly correlated to the orientation of the collagen fibrils. See publication for further details.

Blood glucose supplies energy to cells and is critical for the human brain. Glycation of collagen, the nonenzymatic formation of glucose‐bridges, relates to diseases of aging populations and diabetics. This chemical reaction, together with its biomechanical effects, has been well studied employing animal models. However, the direct impact of glycation on collagen nano‐structure is largely overlooked, and there is a lack of ex vivo model systems. Here, we present the impact of glucose on collagen nanostructure in a model system based on abundantly available connective tissue of farm animals. By combining ex vivo small and wide‐angle X‐ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) imaging, we characterize intra‐ and inter‐molecular parameters of collagen in decellularized bovine pericardium with picometer precision. We observe three distinct regimes according to glucose concentration. Such a study opens new avenues for inspecting the effects of diabetes mellitus on connective tissues and the influence of therapies on the resulting secondary disorders.