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Cell Mol Bioeng. 2009 Sep 1;2(3):386-394.

Duty Cycle of Deformational Loading Influences the Growth of Engineered Articular Cartilage.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 351 Engineering Terrace, MC8904, 1210 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.


This study examines how variations in the duty cycle (the duration of applied loading) of deformational loading can influence the mechanical properties of tissue engineered cartilage constructs over one month in bioreactor culture. Dynamic loading was carried out with three different duty cycles: 1 h on/1 h off for a total of 3 h loading/day, 3 h continuous loading, or 6 h of continuous loading per day, with all loading performed 5 days/week. All loaded groups showed significant increases in Young's modulus after one month (vs. free swelling controls), but only loading for a continuous 3 and 6 h showed significant increases in dynamic modulus by this time point. Histological analysis showed that dynamic loading can increase cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and collagen types II and IX, as well as prevent the formation of a fibrous capsule around the construct. Type II and IX collagen deposition increased with increased with duration of applied loading. These results point to the efficacy of dynamic deformational loading in the mechanical preconditioning of engineered articular cartilage constructs. Furthermore, these results highlight the ability to dictate mechanical properties with variations in mechanical input parameters, and the possible importance of other cartilage matrix molecules, such as COMP, in establishing the functional material properties of engineered constructs.

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