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Instabilities induced by mechanical loading determine the viability of chondrocytes grown on porous scaffolds

Cornell Affiliated Author(s)


B. Kim
N. Bouklas
Itai Cohen
L.J. Bonassar


Tissue-engineered cartilage constructs have shown promise to treat focal cartilage defects in multiple clinical studies. Notably, products in clinical use or in late-stage clinical trials often utilize porous collagen scaffolds to provide mechanical support and attachment sites for chondrocytes. Under loading, both the local mechanical responses of collagen scaffolds and the corresponding cellular outcomes are poorly understood, despite their wide use. As such, the architecture of collagen scaffolds varies significantly among tissue-engineered cartilage products, but the effects of such architectures on construct mechanics and cell viability are not well understood. This study investigated the effects of local mechanical responses of collagen scaffolds on chondrocyte viability in tissue-engineered cartilage constructs. We utilized fast confocal microscopy combined with a strain mapping technique to analyze the architecture-dependent instabilities under quasi-static loading and subsequent chondrocyte death in honeycomb and sponge scaffolds. More specifically, we compared the isotropic and the orthotropic planes for each type of collagen scaffold. Under compression, both planes exhibited elastic, buckled, and densified deformation modes. In both loading directions, cell death was minimal in regions that experienced elastic deformation mode and a trend of increase in buckled mode. More interestingly, we saw a significant increase in cell death in densified mode. Overall, this study suggests that local instabilities are directly correlated to chondrocyte death in tissue-engineered cartilage constructs, highlighting the importance of understanding the architecture-dependent local mechanical responses under loading. © 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Date Published


Journal of Biomechanics






Group (Lab)

Itai Cohen Group

Funding Source

CMMI 1927197
CMMI 2129776
DMR 1807602

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