Poroelastic numerical modelling of natural and engineered cartilage based on in vitro tests

Federica Boschetti, Francesca Gervaso, Giancarlo Pennati, Giuseppe M. Peretti, Pasquale Vena, Gabriele Dubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms underlying the ability of articular cartilage to withstand and distribute the loads applied across diarthrodial joints have been widely studied. Experimental tests have been done under several configurations to reveal the tissue response to mechanical stimuli, and theoretical models have been developed for the interpretation of the experimental results. The experiments demonstrated that the tissue is non-linear with strain, both in tension and in compression, non-linear with direction of stimulus, anisotropic in tension and compression, non-homogeneous with depth, resulting in depth dependent mechanical properties, and presents fluid dependent and fluid independent viscoelasticity. None of the models up to now developed is able to describe the whole set of responses of such a complex tissue. The purpose of this study was to develop a combined experimental-numerical approach for the proper description of the cartilage response under confined and unconfined compression. We defined a series of experimental tests to be performed on disks of natural and engineered cartilage and we developed a numerical model for cartilage, based on the biphasic theory, which potentially includes the tension-compression non-linearity, the strain non-linearity and the fluid independent viscoelasticity. The model successfully simulated the confined and unconfined compression experiments performed on disks of natural and engineered cartilage, and was also used to identify parameters of difficult experimental evaluation, such as the collagen stiffness and the permeability. In conclusion, the use of our model in combination with biomechanical experimental testing seems a valuable tool to analyze the mechanical properties of natural cartilage and the biofunctionality of tissue engineered cartilage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-247
Number of pages13
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Articular cartilage
  • Compression tests
  • Permeation
  • Poroelastic modeling
  • Tissue engineered cartilage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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