A constituent based nonlinear viscoelastic (VE) model was modified from a previous study (Vena, et al., 2006, “A Constituent-Based Model for the Nonlinear Viscoelastic Behavior of Ligaments,” J. Biomech. Eng., 128, pp. 449–457) to incorporate a glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-collagen (COL) stress balance using compressible elastic stress constitutive equations specific to articular cartilage (AC). For uniaxial loading of a mixture of quasilinear VE constituents, time constant and relaxation ratio equations are derived to highlight how a mixture of constituents with distinct quasilinear VE properties is one mechanism that produces a nonlinear VE tissue. Uniaxial tension experiments were performed with newborn bovine AC specimens before and after ~55% and ~85% GAG depletion treatment with guanidine. Experimental tissue VE parameters were calculated directly from stress relaxation data, while intrinsic COL VE parameters were calculated by curve fitting the data with the nonlinear VE model with intrinsic GAG viscoelasticity neglected. Select tissue and intrinsic COL VE parameters were significantly different from control and experimental groups and correlated with GAG content, suggesting that GAG-COL interactions exist to modulate tissue and COL mechanical properties. Comparison of the results from this and other studies that subjected more mature AC tissue to GAG depletion treatment suggests that the GAGs interact with the COL network in a manner that may be beneficial for rapid volumetric expansion during developmental growth while protecting cells from excessive matrix strains. Furthermore, the underlying GAG-COL interactions appear to diminish as the tissue matures, indicating a distinctive remodeling response during developmental growth.


Mechanical Engineering

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