Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1563–1575 | Cite as

A multiscale synthesis: characterizing acute cartilage failure under an aggregate tibiofemoral joint loading

  • Malek AdouniEmail author
  • Tanvir R. Faisal
  • Mohamed Gaith
  • Yasin Y. Dhaher
Original Paper


Knee articular cartilage is characterized by a complex mechanical behavior, posing a challenge to develop an efficient and precise model. We argue that the cartilage damage, in general, can be traced to the fibril level as a plastic deformation, defined as micro-defects. To investigate these micro-defects, we have developed a detailed finite element model of the entire healthy tibiofemoral joint (TF) including a multiscale constitutive model which considers the structural hierarchies of the articular cartilage. The net model was simulated under physiological loading conditions to predict joint response under 2000 N axial compression and damage initiation under high axial loading (max 7 KN) when the TF joint flexed to 30°. Computed results sufficiently agreed with earlier experimental and numerical studies. Further, initiation and propagation of damage in fibrils were computed at the tibial cartilage located mainly in the superficial and middle layers. Our simulation results also indicated that the stiffer the fibril is (higher cross-link densities), the higher the contact stress required to elicit a fibril yield and the higher the rate of yielding as a function of increased contact stress. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first model that combines macro-continuum joint mechanics and micromechanics at the tissue level. The computational construct presented here serves as a simulation platform to explore the interplay between acute cartilage damage and micromechanics characteristics at the tropocollagen level.


Multiscale model Tropocollagen Fibrils Cartilage damage Tibiofemoral joint 



This work is supported by a Grant (#U01 EB015410-01A1) from the National Institute of Health NIH.

Authors’ contribution

All authors have read and approved this submission; M.A. carried out analyses, all (M.A., T.F., M.G. and Y.D.) participated in the definition, design and development of the work, and finally manuscript was written by all authors (M.A., T.F., M.G. and Y.D.).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

10237_2019_1159_MOESM1_ESM.docx (8.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 8439 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malek Adouni
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Tanvir R. Faisal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mohamed Gaith
    • 4
  • Yasin Y. Dhaher
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation DepartmentNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Legs + Walking LabShirley Ryan AbilityLabChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentAustralian College of KuwaitEast MishrefKuwait
  4. 4.Faculty of Engineering TechnologyAl-Balqa Applied UniversityAmmanJordan
  5. 5.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity of Texas SouthwestDallasUSA
  6. 6.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryUniversity of Texas SouthwestDallasUSA
  7. 7.BioengineeringUniversity of Texas SouthwestDallasUSA

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