Author(s): Afara IO, Singh S, Oloyede A
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Abstract The conventional mechanical properties of articular cartilage, such as compressive stiffness, have been demonstrated to be limited in their capacity to distinguish intact (visually normal) from degraded cartilage samples. In this paper, we explore the correlation between a new mechanical parameter, namely the reswelling of articular cartilage following unloading from a given compressive load, and the near infrared (NIR) spectrum. The capacity to distinguish mechanically intact from proteoglycan-depleted tissue relative to the "reswelling" characteristic was first established, and the result was subsequently correlated with the NIR spectral data of the respective tissue samples. To achieve this, normal intact and enzymatically degraded samples were subjected to both NIR probing and mechanical compression based on a load-unload-reswelling protocol. The parameter δr, characteristic of the osmotic "reswelling" of the matrix after unloading to a constant small load in the order of the osmotic pressure of cartilage, was obtained for the different sample types. Multivariate statistics was employed to determine the degree of correlation between δr and the NIR absorption spectrum of relevant specimens using Partial Least Squared (PLS) regression. The results show a strong relationship (R(2)=95.89\%, p<0.0001) between the spectral data and δr. This correlation of δr with NIR spectral data suggests the potential for determining the reswelling characteristics non-destructively. It was also observed that δr values bear a significant relationship with the cartilage matrix integrity, indicated by its proteoglycan content, and can therefore differentiate between normal and artificially degraded proteoglycan-depleted cartilage samples. It is therefore argued that the reswelling of cartilage, which is both biochemical (osmotic) and mechanical (hydrostatic pressure) in origin, could be a strong candidate for characterizing the tissue, especially in regions surrounding focal cartilage defects in joints. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Mech Behav Biomed Mater
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research