Strain-dependent recovery behavior of single chondrocytes

Adrian C. Shieh, Eugene J. Koay, Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


One of the challenges facing researchers studying chondrocyte mechanobiology is determining the range of mechanical forces pertinent to the problems they study. One possible way to deal with this problem is to quantify how the biomechanical behavior of cells varies in response to changing mechanical forces. In this study, the compressibility and recovery behaviors of single chondrocytes were determined as a function of compressive strains from 6 to 63%. Bovine articular chondrocytes from the middle and deep zones were subjected to this range of strains, and digital videocapture was used to track changes in cell dimensions during and after compression. The normalized volume change, apparent Poisson's ratio, residual strain after recovery, cell volume fraction after recovery, and characteristic recovery time constant were analyzed with respect to axial strain. Normalized volume change varied as a function of strain, demonstrating that chondrocytes exhibited compressibility. The mean Poisson's ratio of chondrocytes was found to be 0.29 ± 0.14, and did not vary with axial strain. In contrast, residual strain, recovered volume fraction, and recovery time constant all depended on axial strain. The dependence of residual strain and recovered volume fraction on axial strain showed a change in behavior around 25-30% strain, opening up the possibility that this range of strains represents a critical value for chondrocytes. Quantifying the mechanical behavior of cells as a function of stress and strain is a potentially useful approach for identifying levels of mechanical stimulation that may be germane to normal cartilage physiology, functional tissue engineering of cartilage, and the etiopathogenesis of osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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