The effect of tissue-engineered cartilage biomechanical and biochemical properties on its post-implantation mechanical behavior

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The insufficient load-bearing capacity of today’s tissue-engineered (TE) cartilage limits its clinical application. Focus has been on engineering cartilage with enhanced mechanical stiffness by reproducing native biochemical compositions. More recently, depth dependency of the biochemical content and the collagen network architecture has gained interest. However, it is unknown whether the mechanical performance of TE cartilage would benefit more from higher content of biochemical compositions or from achieving an appropriate collagen organization. Furthermore, the relative synthesis rate of collagen and proteoglycans during the TE process may affect implant performance. Such insights would assist tissue engineers to focus on those aspects that are most important. The aim of the present study is therefore to elucidate the relative importance of implant ground substance stiffness, collagen content, and collagen architecture of the implant, as well as the synthesis rate of the biochemical constituents for the post-implantation mechanical behavior of the implant. We approach this by computing the post-implantation mechanical conditions using a composition-based fibril-reinforced poro-viscoelastic swelling model of the medial tibia plateau. Results show that adverse implant composition and ultrastructure may lead to post-implantation excessive mechanical loads, with collagen orientation being the most critical variable. In addition, we predict that a faster synthesis rate of proteoglycans compared to that of collagen during TE culture may result in excessive loads on collagen fibers post-implantation. This indicates that even with similar final contents, constructs may behave differently depending on their development. Considering these aspects may help to engineer TE cartilage implants with improved survival rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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