The ionic contribution of proteoglycans to mechanical stiffness of the meniscus

Mahmood, Fahd and Clarke, Jon and Riches, Philip (2019) The ionic contribution of proteoglycans to mechanical stiffness of the meniscus. Medical Engineering and Physics, 64. pp. 23-27. ISSN 1873-4030 (

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Load transmission is an important function of the meniscus. In articular cartilage, proteoglycans help maintain hydration via negatively charged moieties. We aimed to investigate the influence of electrostatic effects on stiffness of meniscal tissue. Circular discs from bovine menisci of 8 mm diameter and 5 mm thickness were placed within a confined compression chamber. The apparatus was bathed in distilled water, 0.14 M PBS or 3 M PBS before being subjected to 5% ramp compressive strain and held for 300s. FEBio software was used to fit resultant relaxation curves to a non-linear poroviscoelastic model with strain dependent Holmes-Mow permeability. Analysis was conducted using one-way ANOVA with Tukey post-hoc analysis. 10 samples were tested in each solution. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed between the values for Young's modulus, zero strain dependent permeability and the viscoelastic coefficient for samples tested in 3 M PBS as compared to deionised water/0.14 M PBS. No significant differences were observed in the strain dependent/stiffening coefficients or the relaxation time. Approximately 79% of the stiffness of the meniscus appears attributable to ionic effects. Ionic effects play a significant role in the mechanical stiffness of the meniscus. It is important to include the influence of ionic effects when developing mathematical models of this tissue.