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Tissue Eng. 2004 Sep-Oct;10(9-10):1436-45.

Tribology approach to the engineering and study of articular cartilage.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


This study has been based on the assumption that articular motion is an important aspect of mechanotransduction in synovial joints. For this reason a new bioreactor concept, able to reproduce joint kinematics more closely, has been designed. The prototype consists of a rotating scaffold and/or cartilage pin, which is pressed onto an orthogonally rotating ball. By oscillating pin and ball in phase difference, elliptical displacement trajectories are generated that are similar to the motion paths occurring in vivo. Simultaneously, dynamic compression may be applied with a linear actuator, while two-step-motors generate the rotation of pin and ball. The whole apparatus is placed in an incubator. The control station is located outside. Preliminary investigations at the gene expression level demonstrated promising results. Compared with free-swelling control and/or simply compression-loaded samples, chondrocyte-seeded scaffolds as well as nasal cartilage explants exposed to interface motion both showed elevated levels of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein mRNA. The final design of the bioreactor will include four individual stations in line, which will facilitate the investigation of motion-initiated effects at the contacting surfaces in more detail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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