Elastin-like protein matrix reinforced with collagen microfibers for soft tissue repair

Jeffrey M. Caves, Wanxing Cui, Jing Wen, Vivek A. Kumar, Carolyn A. Haller, Elliot L. Chaikof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Artificial composites designed to mimic the structure and properties of native extracellular matrix may lead to acellular materials for soft tissue repair and replacement, which display mechanical strength, stiffness, and resilience resembling native tissue. We describe the fabrication of thin lamellae consisting of continuous collagen microfiber embedded at controlled orientations and densities in a recombinant elastin-like protein polymer matrix. Multilamellar stacking affords flexible, protein-based composite sheets whose properties are dependent upon both the elastomeric matrix and collagen content and organization. Sheets are produced with properties that range over 13-fold in elongation to break (23-314%), six-fold in Young's modulus (5.3-33.1 MPa), and more than two-fold in tensile strength (1.85-4.08 MPa), exceeding that of a number of native human tissues, including urinary bladder, pulmonary artery, and aorta. A sheet approximating the mechanical response of human abdominal wall fascia is investigated as a fascial substitute for ventral hernia repair. Protein-based composite patches prevent hernia recurrence in Wistar rats over an 8-week period with new tissue formation and sustained structural integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5371-5379
Number of pages9
Issue number23
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


  • Collagen
  • Elastin
  • Fiber-reinforced composite
  • Mechanical properties
  • Recombinant protein
  • Surgical mesh


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