Cartilage mechanics, nutrient transport & biosynthesis
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Engineering Computational Biology
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    Cartilage mechanics, nutrient transport & biosynthesis

    Articular cartilage is found at the end of long bones, within synovial joints. Its main functions appear to be to reduce contact pressures between opposing bones and to provide a low-wear contacting surface. Articular cartilage is prone to damage through abrasion or tearing if the joint is subjected to unusual loads or deformations, such as those potentially encountered in many sports or in motor vehicle accidents. Unlike neighbouring bone, cartilage has limited ability to repair itself - due the absence of blood vessels to deliver nutrients to chondrocytes (cartilage cells) dispersed throughout the cartilage matrix. For example, Insulin-like Growth Factor-I (IGF-I) is a large molecule with an important role in cartilage growth and metabolism, however it first must reach the chondrocytes within the cartilage to exert an effect. Consequently, once damaged through injury or disease articular cartilage generally degenerates toward the common and often debilitating disorder -- osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a disorder resulting in changes to articular cartilage and is one of the leading causes of disability in the community, yet a fundamental understanding of joint mechanics has yet to be realised.

    Nutrients, such as growth factors, must be transported into the cartilage by a combination of diffusion and convection. Regular cyclic loading of cartilage during normal daily activities may help modulate or even enhance nutrient transport. Modeling the influence of cyclic loading regimes on nutrient transport in cartilage will progress our understanding of cartilage mechanics in health and disease, and so help Australians age well and productively.

    The aim of this project is to develop a mathematical model describing factors regulating articular cartilage haelth and repair.



    • 2009-2011, ARC-DP, Engineering cartilage homeostasis in health and disease, David Smith, Bruce Gardiner and Alan Grodzinsky, $230, 000.
    • 2004-2006, ARC-DP, Fundamental theoretical and experimental investigation of cartilage mechanics, David Smith and Allan Grodzinsky, $282,000


    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, A.J. Grodzinsky, (2009) The Transport of Insulin-like Growth Factor through Cartilage, Book Chapter to appear in Porous Media Applications in Biological Systems and Biotechnology, Editor K. Vafai.
    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, A.J. Grodzinsky, (2009) Integrated model of IGF-I mediated biosynthesis in deformed articular cartilage, Appeared in a topically issue on Micro and Nanomechanics of Biological and Bio-inspired Materials Journal of Engineering Mechanics 135(5), 439-449.
    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, A.J. Grodzinsky, The effect of cyclic deformation and solute binding on solute transport in cartilage, Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 457 (2007) 47-56.
    • B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, A.J. Grodzinsky, E.H. Frank, L. Zhang, Solute transport in cartilage undergoing cyclic deformationi, Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, to appear (2007)
    • D.W. Smith, L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, P. Pivonka, A.J. Grodzinsky, Effects of ECM binding on solute transport in cyclically deformed cartilage, The 53rd Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society, USA (2007).
    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, The role of solute binding on solute transport in cyclic deformed cartilage, ANZORS 12th Annual Scientific Meeting, Canberra, Australia (2006).
    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, Solute Transport in Cartilage: Effects of Cyclic Deformation and ECM Binding, 15th International Conference on Mechanics in Medicine and Biology, Singapore (2006).
    • L. Zhang, B.S. Gardiner, D.W. Smith, P. Pivonka, Physiological loading enhances growth factor uptake and binding in articular cartilage, Australia Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Conferece, Brisbane, Australia (2006)
        Groovy biomedical image Atomic Force Microscope images of individual isolated aggrecan molecules from fetal epiphyseal and mature nasal cartilage (Ng et al., 2003)  

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Last updated: July 15 2015 09:18:06.