, Volume 5, Issue 2-3, pp 150-159
Date: 28 Feb 2006

Collagen Network of Articular Cartilage Modulates Fluid Flow and Mechanical Stresses in Chondrocyte

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The extracellular matrix of articular cartilage modulates the mechanical signals sensed by the chondrocytes. In the present study, a finite element model (FEM) of the chondrocyte and its microenvironment was reconstructed using the information from fourier transform infrared imaging spectroscopy. This environment consisted of pericellular, territorial (mainly proteoglycans), and inter-territorial (mainly collagen) matrices. The chondrocyte, pericellular, and territorial matrix were assumedto be mechanically isotropic and poroelastic, whereas the inter-territorial matrix, due to its high collagen content, was assumed to be transversely isotropic and poroelastic. Under instantaneous strain-controlled compression, the FEM indicated that the fluid pressure within the chondrocyte increased nonlinearly as a function of the in-plane Young’s modulus of the collagen network. Under instantaneous force-controlled compression, the chondrocyte experienced the highest fluid pressure when the in-plane Young’s modulus of the collagen network was ~4 MPa. Based on the present results, the mechanical characteristics of the collagen network of articular cartilage can modify fluid flow and stresses in chondrocytes. Therefore, the integrity of the collagen network may be an important determinant in cell stimulation and in the control of the matrix maintenance.