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Mechanobiological model for simulation of injured cartilage degradation via pro-inflammatory cytokines and mechanical stimulus

by Atte S. A. Eskelinen, Petri Tanska, Cristina Florea, Gustavo A. Orozco, Petro Julkunen, Alan J. Grodzinsky, Rami K. Korhonen

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) is associated with cartilage degradation, ultimately leading to disability and decrease of quality of life. Two key mechanisms have been suggested to occur in PTOA: tissue inflammation and abnormal biomechanical loading. Both mechanisms have been suggested to result in loss of cartilage proteoglycans, the source of tissue fixed charge density (FCD). In order to predict the simultaneous effect of these degrading mechanisms on FCD content, a computational model has been developed. We simulated spatial and temporal changes of FCD content in injured cartilage using a novel finite element model that incorporates (1) diffusion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 into tissue, and (2) the effect of excessive levels of shear strain near chondral defects during physiologically relevant loading. Cytokine-induced biochemical cartilage explant degradation occurs near the sides, top, and lesion, consistent with the literature. In turn, biomechanically-driven FCD loss is predicted near the lesion, in accordance with experimental findings: regions near lesions showed significantly more FCD depletion compared to regions away from lesions (pin silico tools for predicting disease progression, recognizing lesions at high risk, simulating treatments, and ultimately optimizing treatments to postpone the development of PTOA.

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