Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 689–699 | Cite as

A computational algorithm to simulate disorganization of collagen network in injured articular cartilage

  • Petri Tanska
  • Petro Julkunen
  • Rami K. Korhonen
Original Paper


Cartilage defects are a known risk factor for osteoarthritis. Estimation of structural changes in these defects could help us to identify high risk defects and thus to identify patients that are susceptible for the onset and progression of osteoarthritis. Here, we present an algorithm combined with computational modeling to simulate the disorganization of collagen fibril network in injured cartilage. Several potential triggers for collagen disorganization were tested in the algorithm following the assumption that disorganization is dependent on the mechanical stimulus of the tissue. We found that tensile tissue stimulus alone was unable to preserve collagen architecture in intact cartilage as collagen network reoriented throughout the cartilage thickness. However, when collagen reorientation was based on both tensile tissue stimulus and tensile collagen fibril strains or stresses, the collagen network architecture was preserved in intact cartilage. Using the same approach, substantial collagen reorientation was predicted locally near the cartilage defect and particularly at the cartilage–bone interface. The developed algorithm was able to predict similar structural findings reported in the literature that are associated with experimentally observed remodeling in articular cartilage. The proposed algorithm, if further validated, could help to predict structural changes in articular cartilage following post-traumatic injury potentially advancing to impaired cartilage function.


Articular cartilage Finite element analysis Collagen Disorganization Injury Cartilage mechanics 



CSC—IT Center for Science Ltd., Finland, is acknowledged for providing modeling software and Mikko S. Venäläinen, Ph.D., for technical support.

Author Contributions

PT contributed to the conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and critical revision of the article for intellectual content. PJ took part in the conception and design of the study, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and critical revision of the article for intellectual content. RKK participated in the conception and design of the study, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting and critical revision of the article for intellectual content.


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013), ERC Grant Agreement No. 281180, the Academy of Finland (Projects 286526, 305138), State Research Funding from Kuopio University Hospital (Project 5041763), Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation North Savo regional fund (Grant 65142194) and Alfred Kordelin Foundation (Grant 150465). The funding sources had no role in the study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; and in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10237_2017_986_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (373 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 373 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied PhysicsUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  2. 2.Diagnostic Imaging CenterKuopio University HospitalKuopioFinland

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