Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 1718-1727

First online:

The Local Matrix Distribution and the Functional Development of Tissue Engineered Cartilage, a Finite Element Study

  • B. G. SengersAffiliated withEindhoven University of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering Email author 
  • , C. C. van DonkelaarAffiliated withEindhoven University of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • , C. W. J. OomensAffiliated withEindhoven University of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • , F. P. T. BaaijensAffiliated withEindhoven University of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering

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Assessment of the functionality of tissue engineered cartilage constructs is hampered by the lack of correlation between global measurements of extra cellular matrix constituents and the global mechanical properties. Based on patterns of matrix deposition around individual cells, it has been hypothesized previously, that mechanical functionality arises when contact occurs between zones of matrix associated with individual cells. The objective of this study is to determine whether the local distribution of newly synthesized extracellular matrix components contributes to the evolution of the mechanical properties of tissue engineered cartilage constructs. A computational homogenization approach was adopted, based on the concept of a periodic representative volume element. Local transport and immobilization of newly synthesized matrix components were described. Mechanical properties were taken dependent on the local matrix concentration and subsequently the global aggregate modulus and hydraulic permeability were derived. The transport parameters were varied to assess the effect of the evolving matrix distribution during culture. The results indicate that the overall stiffness and permeability are to a large extent insensitive to differences in local matrix distribution. This emphasizes the need for caution in the visual interpretation of tissue functionality from histology and underlines the importance of complementary measurements of the matrix’s intrinsic molecular organization.

Cartilage Tissue Engineering Extracellular Matrix Homogenization Mechanical Properties