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Annals of biomedical engineering

Mechanical modulation of cartilage structure and function during embryogenesis in the chick.


PMID 14964718

Abstract

The mechanical behavior of cartilage is intimately related to its biochemical composition, and tissue composition is known to be influenced by its local mechanical loading environment. Although this phenomenon has been well-studied in adult cartilage, few investigations have examined such structure-function relationships in embryonic cartilage. The goal of this work was to elucidate the role of mechanical loading on the development of cartilage composition during embryogenesis. Using an embryonic chick model, cartilage from the tibiofemoral joints of immobilized embryos was compared to that of controls. The normal time course of changes in glycosaminoglycan/DNA and hydroxyproline/DNA were significantly influenced by loading history, with the most pronounced effects observed between days 9 and 14 during the period of most rapid increase in motility in control embryos. Stress-relaxation tests conducted on samples from day 14 indicate that the effects of embryonic immobilization on cartilage matrix composition have direct consequences for the mechanical behavior of the tissue, resulting in compromised material properties (e.g. 50% reduction in E(inst)). Because embryogenesis provides a unique model for identifying key factors which influence the establishment of functional biomechanical tissues in the skeleton, these data suggest that treating mechanical loading as an in vitro culture variable for tissue engineering approaches to cartilage repair is likely to be a sound approach.

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