Polymer mechanics as a model for short-term and flow-independent cartilage viscoelasticity

R. K. June, C. P. Neu, J. R. Barone, David P Fyhrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Articular cartilage is the load bearing soft tissue that covers the contacting surfaces of long bones in articulating joints. Healthy cartilage allows for smooth joint motion, while damaged cartilage prohibits normal function in debilitating joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Knowledge of cartilage mechanical function through the progression of osteoarthritis, and in response to innovative regeneration treatments, requires a comprehensive understanding of the molecular nature of interacting extracellular matrix constituents and interstitial fluid. The objectives of this study were therefore to (1) examine the timescale of cartilage stress-relaxation using different mechanistic models and (2) develop and apply a novel (termed "sticky") polymer mechanics model to cartilage stress-relaxation based on temporary binding of constituent macromolecules. Using data from calf cartilage samples, we found that different models captured distinct timescales of cartilage stress-relaxation: monodisperse polymer reptation best described the first second of relaxation, sticky polymer mechanics best described data from ∼ 1 to 100 s of relaxation, and a model of inviscid fluid flow through a porous elastic matrix best described data from 100 s to equilibrium. Further support for the sticky polymer model was observed using experimental data where cartilage stress-relaxation was measured in either low or high salt concentration. These data suggest that a complete understanding of cartilage mechanics, especially in the short time scales immediately following loading, requires appreciation of both fluid flow and the polymeric behavior of the extracellular matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 10 2011

Keywords

  • Articular cartilage
  • Biomechanics
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Polymer dynamics
  • Reptation
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials

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