Fibrous connective tissues provide mechanical support and frameworks for other tissues of the body and play an integral role in normal tissue physiology and pathology. Three-dimensional collagen matrices exhibit mechanical and structural features that resemble fibrous connective tissue and have become an important model system to study cell behavior in a tissue-like environment. This review focuses on motile and mechanical interactions between cells—especially fibroblasts—and collagen matrices. We describe several matrix contraction models, the interactions between fibroblasts and collagen fibrils at global and subcellular levels, unique features of mechanical feedback between cells and the matrix, and the impact of the cell-matrix tension state on cell morphology and mechanical behavior. We develop a conceptual framework to explain the balance between cell migration and collagen translocation including the concept of promigratory and procontractile growth factor environments. Finally, we review the significance of these concepts for the physiology of wound repair.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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