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J Biomech Eng. 2003 Feb;125(1):84-93.

Experimental verification of the roles of intrinsic matrix viscoelasticity and tension-compression nonlinearity in the biphasic response of cartilage.

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Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 500 West 120th St., New York, NY 10027, USA.


A biphasic-CLE-QLV model proposed in our recent study [2001, J. Biomech. Eng., 123, pp. 410-417] extended the biphasic theory of Mow et al. [1980, J. Biomech. Eng., 102, pp. 73-84] to include both tension-compression nonlinearity and intrinsic viscoelasticity of the cartilage solid matrix by incorporating it with the conewise linear elasticity (CLE) model [1995, J. Elasticity, 37, pp. 1-38] and the quasi-linear viscoelasticity (QLV) model [Biomechanics: Its foundations and objectives, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1972]. This model demonstrates that a simultaneous prediction of compression and tension experiments of articular cartilage, under stress-relaxation and dynamic loading, can be achieved when properly taking into account both flow-dependent and flow-independent viscoelastic effects, as well as tension-compression nonlinearity. The objective of this study is to directly test this biphasic-CLE-QLV model against experimental data from unconfined compression stress-relaxation tests at slow and fast strain rates as well as dynamic loading. Twelve full-thickness cartilage cylindrical plugs were harvested from six bovine glenohumeral joints and multiple confined and unconfined compression stress-relaxation tests were performed on each specimen. The material properties of specimens were determined by curve-fitting the experimental results from the confined and unconfined compression stress relaxation tests. The findings of this study demonstrate that the biphasic-CLE-QLV model is able to describe the strain-rate-dependent mechanical behaviors of articular cartilage in unconfined compression as attested by good agreements between experimental and theoretical curvefits (r2 = 0.966 +/- 0.032 for testing at slow strain rate; r2 = 0.998 +/- 0.002 for testing at fast strain rate) and predictions of the dynamic response (r2 = 0.91 +/- 0.06). This experimental study also provides supporting evidence for the hypothesis that both tension-compression nonlinearity and intrinsic viscoelasticity of the solid matrix of cartilage are necessary for modeling the transient and equilibrium responses of this tissue in tension and compression. Furthermore, the biphasic-CLE-QLV model can produce better predictions of the dynamic modulus of cartilage in unconfined dynamic compression than the biphasic-CLE and biphasic poroviscoelastic models, indicating that intrinsic viscoelasticity and tension-compression nonlinearity of articular cartilage may play important roles in the load-support mechanism of cartilage under physiologic loading.

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