Finite Element Modeling Predictions of Region-specific Cell-matrix Mechanics in the Meniscus
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- Upton, M.L., Guilak, F., Laursen, T.A. et al. Biomech Model Mechanobiol (2006) 5: 140. doi:10.1007/s10237-006-0031-4
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The knee meniscus exhibits significant spatial variations in biochemical composition and cell morphology that reflect distinct phenotypes of cells located in the radial inner and outer regions. Associated with these cell phenotypes is a spatially heterogeneous microstructure and mechanical environment with the innermost regions experiencing higher fluid pressures and lower tensile strains than the outer regions. It is presently unknown, however, how meniscus tissue mechanics correlate with the local micromechanical environment of cells. In this study, theoretical models were developed to study mechanics of inner and outer meniscus cells with varying geometries. The results for an applied biaxial strain predict significant regional differences in the cellular mechanical environment with evidence of tensile strains along the collagen fiber direction of ~0.07 for the rounded inner cells, as compared to levels of 0.02–0.04 for the elongated outer meniscus cells. The results demonstrate an important mechanical role of extracellular matrix anisotropy and cell morphology in regulating the region-specific micromechanics of meniscus cells, that may further play a role in modulating cellular responses to mechanical stimuli.