, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 494-501

Large Deformation Finite Element Analysis of Micropipette Aspiration to Determine the Mechanical Properties of the Chondrocyte

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Abstract

Chondrocytes, the cells in articular cartilage, exhibit solid-like viscoelastic behavior in response to mechanical stress. In modeling the creep response of these cells during micropipette aspiration, previous studies have attributed the viscoelastic behavior of chondrocytes to either intrinsic viscoelasticity of the cytoplasm or to biphasic effects arising from fluid–solid interactions within the cell. However, the mechanisms responsible for the viscoelastic behavior of chondrocytes are not fully understood and may involve one or both of these phenomena. In this study, the micropipette aspiration experiment was modeled using a large strain finite element simulation that incorporated contact boundary conditions. The cell was modeled using finite strain incompressible and compressible elastic models, a two-mode compressible viscoelastic model, or a biphasic elastic or viscoelastic model. Comparison of the model to the experimentally measured response of chondrocytes to a step increase in aspiration pressure showed that a two-mode compressible viscoelastic formulation accurately captured the creep response of chondrocytes during micropipette aspiration. Similarly, a biphasic two-mode viscoelastic analysis could predict all aspects of the cell’s creep response to a step aspiration. In contrast, a biphasic elastic formulation was not capable of predicting the complete creep response, suggesting that the creep response of the chondrocytes under micropipette aspiration is predominantly due to intrinsic viscoelastic phenomena and is not due to the biphasic behavior.