Jill Middendorf Publishes a Paper in the Journal of Biomechanics

Tissue engineered cartilage has been implanted into the knees of hundreds of people to fix articular cartilage defects. These implants increase joint function and reduce pain. To understand why these implants improve joint function, many researchers examine the mechanical properties of tissue engineered cartilage. The initial cell seeded scaffold contributes significantly to the mechanics of the implant. As the implant grows the cells produce more matrix which changes the mechanical properties. However, this matrix deposition is heterogeneous and the local mechanical properties do not change uniformly. Therefore, this paper examined changes in the microscale mechanical properties that occur due to increased matrix deposition in human tissue engineered cartilage. Like many engineered cartilage implants, these implants begin as a 3D scaffold prone to buckling at low strains. As matrix is deposited on the scaffold, the implants show resistance to buckling. This study suggests the importance of in vitro culture of constructs prior to implantation to prevent microscale scaffold buckling.