Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 326150, 23 pages
Review Article

A Review of the Combination of Experimental Measurements and Fibril-Reinforced Modeling for Investigation of Articular Cartilage and Chondrocyte Response to Loading

1Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Kuopio University Hospital, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
2Department of Biomedical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5600 MB, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
3Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland
4Division of Solid Mechanics, Department of Orthopaedics, Lund University, 221 00 Lund, Sweden
5Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Alberta, BC, Calgary, Canada T2N 1N4

Received 20 September 2012; Revised 11 January 2013; Accepted 23 February 2013

Academic Editor: Leping Li

Copyright © 2013 Petro Julkunen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The function of articular cartilage depends on its structure and composition, sensitively impaired in disease (e.g. osteoarthritis, OA). Responses of chondrocytes to tissue loading are modulated by the structure. Altered cell responses as an effect of OA may regulate cartilage mechanotransduction and cell biosynthesis. To be able to evaluate cell responses and factors affecting the onset and progression of OA, local tissue and cell stresses and strains in cartilage need to be characterized. This is extremely challenging with the presently available experimental techniques and therefore computational modeling is required. Modern models of articular cartilage are inhomogeneous and anisotropic, and they include many aspects of the real tissue structure and composition. In this paper, we provide an overview of the computational applications that have been developed for modeling the mechanics of articular cartilage at the tissue and cellular level. We concentrate on the use of fibril-reinforced models of cartilage. Furthermore, we introduce practical considerations for modeling applications, including also experimental tests that can be combined with the modeling approach. At the end, we discuss the prospects for patient-specific models when aiming to use finite element modeling analysis and evaluation of articular cartilage function, cellular responses, failure points, OA progression, and rehabilitation.