The mechanical and material properties of elderly human articular cartilage subject to impact and slow loading

L. V. Burgin, L. Edelsten, R. M. Aspden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


The mechanical properties of articular cartilage vary enormously with loading rate, and how these properties derive from the composition and structure of the tissue is still unclear. This study investigates the mechanical properties of human articular cartilage at rapid rates of loading, compares these with measurements at slow rates of loading and explores how they relate to the gross composition of the tissue. Full-depth femoral head cartilage biopsies were subjected to a slow, unconfined compression test followed by an impact at an energy of 78.5 rnJ and velocity 1.25 m s(-1). The modulus was calculated from the slope of the loading curve and the coefficient of restitution from the areas under the loading and unloading curves.

Tissue composition was measured as water, collagen and glycosaminoglycan contents. The maximum dynamic modulus ranged from 25 to 150 MPa. These values compared with 1-3 MPa measured during quasi-static loading. The coefficient of restitution was 0.502 (0.066) (mean (standard deviation)) and showed no site variation. Water loss was not detectable. Composition was not strongly associated with modulus; water and collagen contents together predicted about 25% of the variance in modulus. (C) 2013 IPEM. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Engineering & Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • articular cartilage
  • human
  • femoral head
  • impact
  • mechanical properties
  • composition
  • material properties
  • femoral-head cartilage
  • chondrocyte viability
  • in-vitro
  • compressive modulus
  • connective tissues
  • water-loss
  • lower-limb
  • bone
  • stiffness
  • collagen


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