Viscoelasticity of articular cartilage: Analysing the effect of induced stress and the restraint of bone in a dynamic environment

Bernard Lawless, Hamid Sadeghi, Duncan K Temple, Hemeth Dhaliwal, Daniel M Espino, David W L Hukins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
234 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of the induced stress and restraint provided by the underlying bone on the frequency-dependent storage and loss stiffness (for bone restraint) or modulus (for induced stress) of articular cartilage, which characterise its viscoelasticity. Dynamic mechanical analysis has been used to determine the frequency-dependent viscoelastic properties of bovine femoral and humeral head articular cartilage. A sinusoidal load was applied to the specimens and out-of-phase displacement response was measured to determine the phase angle, the storage and loss stiffness or modulus. As induced stress increased, the storage modulus significantly increased (p < 0.05). The phase angle decreased significantly (p < 0.05) as the induced stress increased; reducing from 13.1° to 3.5°. The median storage stiffness ranged from 548N/mm to 707N/mm for cartilage tested on-bone and 544N/mm to 732N/mm for cartilage tested off-bone. On-bone articular cartilage loss stiffness was frequency independent (p > 0.05); however, off-bone, articular cartilage loss stiffness demonstrated a logarithmic frequency-dependency (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the frequency-dependent trends of storage and loss moduli of articular cartilage are dependent on the induced stress, while the restraint provided by the underlying bone removes the frequency-dependency of the loss stiffness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-301
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Articular cartilage
  • Frequency
  • Loss
  • Modulus
  • Storage
  • Viscoelasticity


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