The pericellular matrix (PCM) is a narrow tissue region that surrounds chondrocytes in articular cartilage. Previous parametric studies of cell-matrix interactions suggest that the mechanical properties of the PCM relative to those of the extracellular matrix (ECM) can significantly affect the micromechanical environment of the chondrocyte. The goal of this study was to use recently quantified mechanical properties of the PCM in a biphasic finite element model of the cell-PCM-ECM structure to determine the potential influence of the PCM on the mechanical environment of the chondrocyte under normal and osteoarthritic conditions. Our findings suggest that the mismatch between the Young's moduli of PCM and ECM amplifies chondrocyte compressive strains and exhibits a significant stress shielding effect in a zone-dependent manner. Furthermore, the lower permeability of PCM relative to the ECM inhibits fluid flux near the cell by a factor of 30, and thus may have a significant effect on convective transport to and from the chondrocyte. Osteoarthritic changes in the PCM and ECM properties significantly altered the mechanical environment of the chondrocyte, leading to ∼66% higher compressive strains and higher fluid flux near the cell. These findings provide further support for a potential biomechanical role for the chondrocyte PCM, and suggest that changes in the properties of the PCM with osteoarthritis may alter the stress-strain and fluid flow environment of the chondrocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-325
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Articular cartilage
  • Biomechanics
  • Biphasic
  • Cell mechanics
  • Chondron
  • Finite element model
  • Micropipette
  • Modulus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pericellular matrix
  • Permeability


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