Dynamic mechanical properties of the tissue-engineered matrix associated with individual chondrocytes

Bo Bae Lee, Lin Han, Eliot H. Frank, Susan Chubinskaya, Christine Ortiz, Alan J. Grodzinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The success of cell-based tissue engineering approaches in restoring biological function will be facilitated by a comprehensive fundamental knowledge of the temporal evolution of the structure and properties of the newly synthesized matrix. Here, we quantify the dynamic oscillatory mechanical behavior of the engineered matrix associated with individual chondrocytes cultured in vitro for up to 28 days in alginate scaffolds. The magnitude of the complex modulus (|E*|) and phase shift (δ) were measured in culture medium using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)-based nanoindentation in response to an imposed oscillatory deformation (amplitude ∼5 nm) as a function of frequency (f=1-316 Hz), probe tip geometry (2.5 μm radius sphere and 50 nm radius square pyramid), and in the absence and presence of growth factors (GF, insulin growth factor-1, IGF-1, and osteogenic protein-1, OP-1). |E*| for all conditions increased nonlinearly with frequency dependence approximately f1/2 and ranged between ∼1 and 25 kPa. This result, along with theoretical calculations of the characteristic poroelastic relaxation frequency, fp, (∼50-90 Hz) suggested that this time-dependent behavior was governed primarily by fluid flow-dependent poroelasticity, rather than flow-independent viscoelastic processes associated with the solid matrix. |E*(f)| increased, (f) decreased, and the hydraulic permeability, k, decreased with time in culture and with growth factor treatment. This trend of a more elastic-like response was thought to be associated with increased macromolecular biosynthesis, density, and a more mature matrix structure/organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 10 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • AFM
  • Chondrocytes
  • Dynamic compression
  • Growth factors
  • Nanomechanics
  • Pericellular matrix
  • Tissue engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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