Tensile mechanical properties of bovine articular cartilage: Variations with growth and relationships to collagen network components

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One approach to repairing articular defects is to regenerate cartilage by recapitulating the changes that occur during fetal and postnatal growth into adulthood, and to thereby restore functional biomechanical properties, especially those of the normally strong superficial region. The objectives of this study were (1) to characterize and compare tensile biomechanical properties of the superficial region of articular cartilage of the patellofemoral groove (PFG) and femoral condyle (FC) from bovine animals over a range of growth stages (third-trimester fetal, 1-3 week-old calf, and adult), and (2) to determine if these properties were correlated with collagen network components. With growth from the fetus to the adult, the equilibrium and dynamic tensile moduli and strength of cartilage samples increased by an average of 391-1060%, while the strain at the failure decreased by 43%. The collagen concentration (per wet weight) increased by 98%, and the pyridinoline cross-link concentration increased by 730%, while the glycosaminoglycan concentration remained unchanged or decreased slightly. Some growth-associated changes were location-specific, with tensile moduli and strength attaining higher values in the PFG than the FC. The growth-associated variation in tensile moduli and strength were associated strongly with variation in the contents of collagen and pyridinoline cross-link, but not sulfated glycosaminoglycan. The marked changes in the tensile properties and collagen network components of articular cartilage with growth suggest that such parameters may be used to evaluate the degrees to which regenerated cartilage recapitulates normal development and growth. © 2003 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Williamson, A. K., Chen, A. C., Masuda, K., Thonar, E. J. M. A., & Sah, R. L. (2003). Tensile mechanical properties of bovine articular cartilage: Variations with growth and relationships to collagen network components. Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 21(5), 872–880. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0736-0266(03)00030-5

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