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J Biomech Eng. 2009 Jul;131(7):074503. doi: 10.1115/1.3127254.

Strain-dependent oxygen diffusivity in bovine annulus fibrosus.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA.


The intervertebral disk (IVD) is the largest avascular structure in the human body. Transport of small molecules in IVD is mainly through diffusion from the endplates and the peripheral blood vessels surrounding IVD. Studies have investigated the structure, chemical components, and water content in IVD, but to our knowledge no study has investigated the effect of mechanical loading on oxygen transport in IVD. The objective of this study was to determine the strain-dependent behavior of oxygen diffusivity in IVD tissue. A one-dimensional steady-state diffusion experiment was designed and performed to determine the oxygen diffusivity in bovine annulus fibrosus (AF). The oxygen diffusivity was calculated using equation derived from Fick's law. A total of 20 AF specimens (d=6 mm, h approximately 0.5 mm) from bovine coccygeal IVD were used to determine oxygen diffusivity at three levels of compressive strain. The average oxygen diffusivity (mean+/-SD) of bovine AF in the axial direction was 1.43+/-0.242 x 10(-5) cm(2)/s (n=20) at 4.68+/-1.67% compressive strain level, 1.05+/-0.282 x 10(-5) cm(2)/s (n=20) at 14.2+/-1.50% strain level, and 7.71+/-1.63 x 10(-6) cm(2)/s (n=20) at 23.7+/-1.34% strain level. There was a significant decrease in oxygen diffusivity with increasing level of compressive strain (ANOVA, p<0.05). Oxygen diffusivity of bovine AF in the axial direction has been determined. The mechanical loading has a significant effect on oxygen transport in IVD tissues. This study is important in understanding nutritional transport in IVD tissues and related disk degeneration.

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