To learn more about the relationship between extracellular matrix organization, cell shape, and cell growth control, we studied DNA synthesis by fibroblasts in collagen gels that were either attached to culture dishes or floating in culture medium during gel contraction. After 4 days of contraction, the collagen density (initially 1.5 mg/ml) reached 22 mg/ml in attached gels and 55 mg/ml in floating gels. After contraction, attached collagen gels were well organized; collagen fibrils were aligned in the plane of cell spreading; and fibroblasts had an elongated, bipolar morphology. Floating collagen gels, however, were unorganized; collagen fibrils were arranged randomly; and fibroblasts had a stellate morphology. DNA synthesis by fibroblasts in contracted collagen gels was suppressed if the gels were floating in medium but not if the gels were attached, and inhibition was independent of the extent of gel contraction. Therefore, growth of fibroblasts in contracted collagen gels could be regulated by differences in extracellular matrix organization and cell shape independently of extracellular matrix density. We also compared the responses of fibroblasts in contracted collagen gels and monolayer culture to peptide growth factors including fibroblast growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor-β and interleukin 1. Cells in floating collagen gels were generally unresponsive to any of the growth factors. Cells in attached collagen gels and monolayer culture were affected similarly by fibroblast growth factor but not by the others. Our results indicate that extracellular matrix organization influenced not only cell growth, but also fibroblast responsiveness to peptide growth factors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology