Collagen processing, crosslinking, and fibril bundle assembly in matrix produced by fibroblasts in long-term cultures supplemented with ascorbic acid

Frederick Grinnell, Hidekazu Fukamizu, Pamela Pawelek, Shigenori Nakagawa

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Human foreskin fibroblasts were cultured for up to 6 weeks in medium supplemented with ascorbic acid. During this time, the cells produced an extensive new connective tissue matrix in which the accumulated collagen (mostly type I) amounted to about 0.25 mg/106 cells. The matrix was highly differentiated as shown by complete processing of procollagen to collagen α-chains and covalent crosslinking of the collagen. Alignment of collagen fibrils occurred as the fibrils were deposited between cells, and binding of adjacent fibrils to the cell surface appeared to hold the fibrils in register. Groups of aligned fibrils were subdivided into bundles by cell-surface folds. If β-aminopropionitrile was added to the medium, collagen crosslinking was inhibited, but not collagen synthesis or fibril bundle organization. If ascorbic acid was omitted from the culture medium, the extensive new connective tissue matrix was not produced. Our results indicate that fibroblasts in long-term cultures supplemented with ascorbic acid produce a connective tissue matrix with many in vivo-like properties including supermolecular organization of collagen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-491
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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