Minimum design requirements for a poroelastic mimic of articular cartilage.
Tan WS., Moore AC., Stevens MM.
The exceptional functional performance of articular cartilage (load-bearing and lubrication) is attributed to its poroelastic structure and resulting interstitial fluid pressure. Despite this, there remains no engineered cartilage repair material capable of achieving physiologically relevant poroelasticity. In this work we develop in silico models to guide the design approach for poroelastic mimics of articular cartilage. We implement the constitutive models in FEBio, a PDE solver for multiphasic mechanics problems in biological and soft materials. We investigate the influence of strain rate, boundary conditions at the contact interface, and fiber modulus on the reaction force and load sharing between the solid and fluid phases. The results agree with the existing literature that when fibers are incorporated the fraction of load supported by fluid pressure is greatly amplified and increases with the fiber modulus. This result demonstrates that a stiff fibrous phase is a primary design requirement for poroelastic mimics of articular cartilage. The poroelastic model is fit to experimental stress-relaxation data from bovine and porcine cartilage to determine if sufficient design constraints have been identified. In addition, we fit experimental data from FiHy™, an engineered material which is claimed to be poroelastic. The fiber-reinforced poroelastic model was able to capture the primary physics of these materials and demonstrates that FiHy™ is beginning to approach a cartilage-like poroelastic response. We also develop a fiber-reinforced poroelastic model with a bonded interface (rigid contact) to fit stress relaxation data from an osteochondral explant and FiHy™ + bone substitute. The model fit quality is similar for both the chondral and osteochondral configurations and clearly captures the first order physics. Based on this, we propose that physiological poroelastic mimics of articular cartilage should be developed under a fiber-reinforced poroelastic framework.