Depth-dependent Compressive Equilibrium Properties of Articular Cartilage Explained by its Composition
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For this study, we hypothesized that the depth-dependent compressive equilibrium properties of articular cartilage are the inherent consequence of its depth-dependent composition, and not the result of depth-dependent material properties. To test this hypothesis, our recently developed fibril-reinforced poroviscoelastic swelling model was expanded to include the influence of intra- and extra-fibrillar water content, and the influence of the solid fraction on the compressive properties of the tissue. With this model, the depth-dependent compressive equilibrium properties of articular cartilage were determined, and compared with experimental data from the literature. The typical depth-dependent behavior of articular cartilage was predicted by this model. The effective aggregate modulus was highly strain-dependent. It decreased with increasing strain for low strains, and increases with increasing strain for high strains. This effect was more pronounced with increasing distance from the articular surface. The main insight from this study is that the depth-dependent material behavior of articular cartilage can be obtained from its depth-dependent composition only. This eliminates the need for the assumption that the material properties of the different constituents themselves vary with depth. Such insights are important for understanding cartilage mechanical behavior, cartilage damage mechanisms and tissue engineering studies.
KeywordsArticular Cartilage Solid Fraction Deep Zone Bovine Articular Cartilage Dual Porosity Model
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