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Abstract

Emerging 3D printing technology permits innovative approaches to manufacture cartilage scaffolds associated with layer-by-layer mechanical property adaptation. However, information about gradients of mechanical properties in human articular cartilage is limited. In this study, we quantified a zone-dependent change of local elastic modulus of human femoral condyle cartilage by using an instrumented indentation technique. From the cartilage superficial zone towards the calcified layer, a gradient of elastic modulus values between 0.020 ± 0.003 MPa and 6.44 ± 1.02 MPa was measured. To validate the tissue quality, the histological tissue composition was visualized by glycosaminoglycan and collagen staining. This work aims to introduce a new protocol to investigate the zone-dependent mechanical properties of graded structures, such as human articular cartilage. From this knowledge, better cartilage repair strategies could be tailored in the future.

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