Benchmarking of the biomechanical characteristics of normal and degraded articular cartilage to facilitate mathematical modelling

Moody, Hayley Ruscoe (2006) Benchmarking of the biomechanical characteristics of normal and degraded articular cartilage to facilitate mathematical modelling. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In order to validate the appropriate functional characteristics of cartilage, we need to systematically study and understand what constitutes normality and degradation in cartilage. This thesis provides an important step in this direction.

To understand the mechanical repercussions of disruption to the matrix properties, cartilage is often artificially degraded using common enzymes. Although the process of artificial degradation does not provide an accurate representation of osteoarthritis, it can provide insight into the biomechanical properties of single matrix components by examining the behaviour of the tissue following its removal. Through histological analysis utilising the optical absorbance measurements of Safranin O stain, this work has demonstrated that for a given time and enzyme concentration, the action of Trypsin on proteoglycans is highly variable and is dependent on:

  • The initial distribution and concentration of proteoglycans at different depths

  • The intrinsic sample depth

  • The location in the joint space, and

  • The medium type.

These findings provide initial data towards a mathematical model which researchers can use to optimise Trypsin treatment of articular cartilage, and therefore model degeneration in vitro with a better degree of certainty.

The variability noted in the distribution and concentration of proteoglycans, and most likely the collagen network, creates a large variation in the compressive and tensile stiffness of all samples, and total failure strain energy. The average values for each of these tests indicate that a loss of proteoglycan through Trypsin treatment results in decreased compressive stiffness, increased tensile stiffness, and little change to the failure strains or total failure strain energy. Conversely, disruption to the collagen network shows increased compressive and tensile stiffness, as well as failure strain and total failure strain energy. Due to the large variation in the results for each treatment group, the average values for the treated samples fall within the range of results for normal cartilage. These values cannot therefore be used as dependable parameters to benchmark cartilage, since the parameters for artificially degraded cartilage are within the normal levels. The Yeoh and Polynomial hyperelastic laws were found to best represent the material characteristics of cartilage across the range of tested samples, regardless of differences in health and strength.

The results presented here provide important insight into the biomechanical outcomes of artificial degradation and provide direction for future research in this area.

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ID Code: 16402
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Oloyede, Adekunle, Crawford, Ross, Gudimetla, Prasad, & McElwain, Donald
Keywords: articular cartilage, enzyme degradation, compression, hyperelasticity, fracture mechanics
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Hayley Ruscoe Moody
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:02
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2015 04:36

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