Tissue Mechanics Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Academic Editor: Rami K. Korhonen
Copyright © 2013 Ashvin Thambyah and Neil D. Broom. 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.
Stress relaxation and structural analysis were used to investigate the zonally differentiated microstructural response to compression of the integrated cartilage-on-bone tissue system. Fifteen cartilage-on-bone samples were divided into three equal groups and their stress relaxation responses obtained at three different levels of axial compressive strain defined as low (~20%), medium (~40%) and high (~60%). All tests were performed using a channel indenter which included a central relief space designed to capture the response of the matrix adjacent to the directly loaded regions. On completion of each stress relaxation test and while maintaining the imposed axial strain, the samples were formalin fixed, decalcified, and then sectioned for microstructural analysis. Chondron aspect ratios were used to determine the extent of relative strain at different zonal depths. The stress relaxation response of cartilage to all three defined levels of axial strain displayed an initial highly viscous response followed by a significant elastic response. Chondron aspect ratio measurements showed that at the lowest level of compression, axial deformation was confined to the superficial cartilage layer, while in the medium and high axial strain samples the deformation extended into the midzone. The cells in the deep zone remained undeformed for all compression levels.