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Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2018 Jun;17(3):689-699. doi: 10.1007/s10237-017-0986-3. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

A computational algorithm to simulate disorganization of collagen network in injured articular cartilage.

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Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, POB 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland.
Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, POB 1627, 70211, Kuopio, Finland.
Diagnostic Imaging Center, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.


Cartilage defects are a known risk factor for osteoarthritis. Estimation of structural changes in these defects could help us to identify high risk defects and thus to identify patients that are susceptible for the onset and progression of osteoarthritis. Here, we present an algorithm combined with computational modeling to simulate the disorganization of collagen fibril network in injured cartilage. Several potential triggers for collagen disorganization were tested in the algorithm following the assumption that disorganization is dependent on the mechanical stimulus of the tissue. We found that tensile tissue stimulus alone was unable to preserve collagen architecture in intact cartilage as collagen network reoriented throughout the cartilage thickness. However, when collagen reorientation was based on both tensile tissue stimulus and tensile collagen fibril strains or stresses, the collagen network architecture was preserved in intact cartilage. Using the same approach, substantial collagen reorientation was predicted locally near the cartilage defect and particularly at the cartilage-bone interface. The developed algorithm was able to predict similar structural findings reported in the literature that are associated with experimentally observed remodeling in articular cartilage. The proposed algorithm, if further validated, could help to predict structural changes in articular cartilage following post-traumatic injury potentially advancing to impaired cartilage function.


Articular cartilage; Cartilage mechanics; Collagen; Disorganization; Finite element analysis; Injury


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