cartilage tribology

Role of Biphasic Tissue Properties in Regulating Articulation-Induced Cartilage Rehydration

Healthy articular cartilage supports load bearing and frictional properties unmatched among biological tissues and man-made bearing materials. Balancing fluid exudation and recovery under loaded and articulated conditions is essential to the tissue’s biological and mechanical longevity. Our prior tribological investigations, which leveraged the convergent stationary contact area (cSCA) configuration, revealed that sliding alone can modulate cartilage interstitial fluid pressurization and the recovery and maintenance of lubrication under load through a mechanism termed ‘tribological rehydration.’ Our recent comparative assessment of tribological rehydration revealed remarkably consistent sliding speed-dependent fluid recovery and lubrication behaviors across femoral condyle cartilage from five mammalian species (equine/horse, bovine/cow, porcine/pig, ovine/sheep, and caprine/goat). In the present study, we identified and characterized key predictive relationships among tissue properties, sliding-induced tribological rehydration, and the modulation/recovery of lubrication within healthy articular cartilage. Using correlational analysis, we linked observed speed-dependent tribological rehydration behaviors to cartilage’s geometry and biphasic properties (tensile and compressive moduli, permeability). Together, these findings demonstrate that easily measurable tissue characteristics (e.g., bulk tissue material properties, compressive strain magnitude, and strain rates) can be used to predict cartilage’s rehydration and lubricating abilities, and ultimately its function in vivo.
Listed In: Biomechanical Engineering, Biotribology