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Indentation mapping revealed poroelastic, but not viscoelastic,properties spanning native zonal articular cartilage



Joseph Wahlquist, Frank W. DelRio, Mark Randolph, Aaron Aziz, Chelsea Heveran, Stephanie Bryant, Corey P. Neu, Virginia L. Ferguson


Osteoarthrosis is a debilitating disease affecting millions, yet engineering materials for cartilage regeneration has proven difficult because of the complex microstructure of this tissue. Articular cartilage, like many biological tissues, produces a time-dependent response to mechanical load that is critical to cell's physiological function in part due to solid and fluid phase interactions and property variations across multiple length scales. Recreating the time-dependent strain and fluid flow may be critical for successfully engineering replacement tissues but thus far has largely been neglected. Here, microindentation is used to accomplish three objectives: (1) quantify a material's time-dependent mechanical response,(2) map material properties at a cellular relevant length scale throughout zonal articular cartilage and (3) elucidate the underlying viscoelastic, poroelastic, and nonlinear poroelastic causes of deformation in articular cartilage. Untreated and trypsin-treated cartilage was sectioned perpendicular to the articular surface and indentation was used to evaluate properties throughout zonal cartilage on the cut surface. The experimental results demonstrated that within all cartilage zones, the mechanical response was well represented by a model assuming nonlinear biphasic behavior and did not follow conventional viscoelastic or linear poroelastic models. Additionally, 10% (w/w) agarose was tested and, as anticipated, behaved as a linear poroelastic material. The approach outlined here provides a method, applicable to many tissues and biomaterials, which reveals and quantifies the underlying causes of time-dependent deformation, elucidates key aspects of material structure and function, and that can be used to provide important inputs for computational models and targets for tissue engineering.
ACTA Biomaterialia


Microindentation, Cartilage, Viscoelastic, Poroelastic, Biphasic


Wahlquist, J. , DelRio, F. , Randolph, M. , Aziz, A. , Heveran, C. , Bryant, S. , Neu, C. and Ferguson, V. (2017), Indentation mapping revealed poroelastic, but not viscoelastic,properties spanning native zonal articular cartilage, ACTA Biomaterialia, [online],, (Accessed May 21, 2024)


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Created November 7, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021