Structure Function Models for Cartilage Biomechanics
Articular cartilage consists of several constituents such as collagen, aggrecan, decorin, biglycan, proteoglycan, fibromodulin, and others. The roles of several of these constituents in the load-bearing function of cartilage and in osteoarthritic degeneration are unclear. The focus of this project is on structure-function models for cartilage; the researchers are developing a computational multiscale model for cartilage that can relate ultrastructural components and their deformation modes to macroscopic mechanical properties. The project involves extensive computations mainly using the finite element package ABAQUS. A mesoscale model will be developed by examining the behavior of a collagen network containing hundreds of fibrils embedded in a poroelastic matrix. Mesoscale behavior will be approximated by polynomial stress-strain relations to solve initial/boundary value problems like indentation of articular cartilage. The researchers can then study the consequences of (nanoscale) biomolecular changes on the tissue level properties. Data from indentation tests on cartilage will also be fit to protoviscoelastic models using novel fitting schemes.