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Biorheology is an international interdisciplinary journal that publishes research on the deformation and flow properties of biological systems or materials. It is the aim of the editors and publishers of
Biorheology to bring together contributions from those working in various fields of biorheological research from all over the world. A diverse editorial board with broad international representation provides guidance and expertise in wide-ranging applications of rheological methods to biological systems and materials.
The aim of biorheological research is to determine and characterize the dynamics of physiological processes at all levels of organization. Manuscripts should report original theoretical and/or experimental research promoting the scientific and technological advances in a broad field that ranges from the rheology of macromolecules and macromolecular arrays to cell, tissue and organ rheology. In all these areas, the interrelationships of rheological properties of the systems or materials investigated and their structural and functional aspects are stressed.
The scope of papers solicited by
Biorheology extends to systems at different levels of organization that have never been studied before, or, if studied previously, have either never been analyzed in terms of their rheological properties or have not been studied from the point of view of the rheological matching between their structural and functional properties. This biorheological approach applies in particular to molecular studies where changes of physical properties and conformation are investigated without reference to how the process actually takes place, how the forces generated are matched to the properties of the structures and environment concerned, proper time scales, or what structures or strength of structures are required.
Biorheology invites papers in which such 'molecular biorheological' aspects, whether in animal or plant systems, are examined and discussed. While we emphasize the biorheology of physiological function in organs and systems, the biorheology of disease is of equal interest. Biorheological analyses of pathological processes and their clinical implications are encouraged, including basic clinical research on hemodynamics and hemorheology.
In keeping with the rapidly developing fields of mechanobiology and regenerative medicine,
Biorheology aims to include studies of the rheological aspects of these fields by focusing on the dynamics of mechanical stress formation and the response of biological materials at the molecular and cellular level resulting from fluid-solid interactions. With increasing focus on new applications of nanotechnology to biological systems, rheological studies of the behavior of biological materials in therapeutic or diagnostic medical devices operating at the micro and nano scales are most welcome.
Abstract: Proteoglycan aggregate is the primary component in articular cartilage responsible for resisting compressive loading. It consists of a core molecule of hyaluronan and a number of side chains of aggrecan bound to hyaluronan non-covalently. The loss of aggrecan from articular cartilage is considered to be a major factor in the development of osteoarthritis. Though enzymatic digestion of aggrecan is believed to be responsible for the release of aggrecan from osteoarthritic cartilage, other mechanisms, such as direct force-mediated detachment of aggrecan from hyaluronan may also be involved. In this study, the rupture force of the single bond between hyaluronan and aggrecan…in articular cartilage was directly quantified using experimental measurement and Monte Carlo simulation. Low rupture force of this bond, as determined in this study suggested a possible direct force-mediated detachment of aggrecan from proteoglycan aggregate in osteoarthritic cartilage.
Abstract: The boundary lubrication function of articular cartilage is mediated in part by molecules at the articular surface and in synovial fluid, encoded by Prg4. The objective of this study was to determine whether static and dynamic compression regulate PRG4 biosynthesis by cartilage explants. Articular cartilage disks were harvested to include the articular surface from immature bovines. Some disks were subjected to 24 h (day 1) of loading, followed by 72 h (days 2–4) of free-swelling culture to assess chondrocyte responses following unloading. Loading consisted of 6 or 100 kPa of static compression, with or without superimposed dynamic compression (10 or…300 kPa peak amplitude, 0.01 Hz). Other disks were cultured free-swelling as controls. PRG4 secretion into culture medium was inhibited by all compression protocols during day 1. Following unloading, cartilage previously subjected to dynamic compression to 300 kPa exhibited a rebound effect, secreting more PRG4 than did controls, while cartilage previously subjected to 100 kPa static loading secreted less PRG4. Immunohistochemistry revealed that all compression protocols also affected the number of cells expressing PRG4. The paradigm that mechanical stimuli regulate biosynthesis in cartilage appears operative not only for load bearing matrix constituents, but also for PRG4 molecules mediating lubrication.
Abstract: The present study utilised pipette aspiration and simultaneous confocal microscopy to test the hypothesis that chondrocyte deformation is associated with distortion of intracellular organelles and activation of calcium signalling. Aspiration pressure was applied to isolated articular chondrocytes in increments of 2 cm of water every 60 seconds up to a maximum of 10 cm of water. At each pressure increment, confocal microscopy was used to visualise the mitochondria and nucleus labelled with JC-1 and Syto-16, respectively. To investigate intracellular calcium signalling, separate cells were labelled with Fluo 4, rapidly aspirated to 5 cm of water and then imaged for 5…minutes at a tare pressure of 0.1 cm of water. Partial cell aspiration was associated with distortion of the mitochondrial network, elongation of the nucleus and movement towards the pipette mouth. Treatment with cytochalasin D or nocodazole produced an increase in cell aspiration indicating that both the actin microfilaments and microtubules provide mechanical integrity to the cell. When the data was normalised to account for the increased cell deformation, both actin microfilaments and microtubules were shown to be necessary for strain transfer to the intracellular organelles. Mitochondria and nucleus deformation may both be involved in chondrocyte mechanotransduction as well as cellular and intracellular mechanics. In addition, pipette aspiration induced intracellular calcium signalling which may also form part of a mechanotransduction pathway. Alternatively calcium mobilisation may serve to modify actin polymerisation, thereby changing cell mechanics and membrane rigidity in order to facilitate localised cell deformation. These findings have important implications for our understanding of cell mechanics and mechanotransduction as well as interpretation and modelling of pipette aspiration data.
Abstract: Bioreactors allowing direct-perfusion of culture medium through tissue-engineered constructs may overcome diffusion limitations associated with static culturing, and may provide flow-mediated mechanical stimuli. The hydrodynamic stress imposed on cells within scaffolds is directly dependent on scaffold microstructure and on bioreactor configuration. Aim of this study is to investigate optimal shear stress ranges and to quantitatively predict the levels of hydrodynamic shear imposed to cells during the experiments. Bovine articular chondrocytes were seeded on polyestherurethane foams and cultured for 2 weeks in a direct perfusion bioreactor designed to impose 4 different values of shear level at a single flow rate (0.5…ml/min). Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations were carried out on reconstructions of the scaffold obtained from micro-computed tomography images. Biochemistry analyses for DNA and sGAG were performed, along with electron microscopy. The hydrodynamic shear induced on cells within constructs, as estimated by CFD simulations, ranged from 4.6 to 56 mPa. This 12-fold increase in the level of applied shear stress determined a 1.7-fold increase in the mean content in DNA and a 2.9-fold increase in the mean content in sGAG. In contrast, the mean sGAG/DNA ratio showed a tendency to decrease for increasing shear levels. Our results suggest that the optimal condition to favour sGAG synthesis in engineered constructs, at least at the beginning of culture, is direct perfusion at the lowest level of hydrodynamic shear. In conclusion, the presented results represent a first attempt to quantitatively correlate the imposed hydrodynamic shear level and the invoked biosynthetic response in 3D engineered chondrocyte systems.
Abstract: Mechanical stimuli are known to have major influences on chondrocyte function. The molecular events that regulate chondrocyte responses to mechanical stimulation have been the subject of much study. Using an in vitro experimental system we have identified mechanotransduction pathways that control molecular and biochemical responses of human articular chondrocytes to cyclical mechanical stimulation, and how these responses differ in cells isolated from diseased cartilage. We have previously shown that mechanical stimulation of normal articular chondrocytes leads to a cell membrane hyperpolarisation. Within 1 hour following mechanical stimulation there is an increase in aggrecan mRNA levels. These responses are mediated via…α5β1 integrins, the neuropeptides substance P and NMDA, and the cytokine interleukin-4. In OA chondrocytes mechanical stimulation leads to cell membrane depolarisation, but no change in aggrecan mRNA at 1 hour. The depolarisation response is mediated via α5β1 integrins, substance P and interleukin-4, but the cells show an altered response to NMDA. Having identified that the NMDA receptor is present in human articular cartilage and may play an important role in a chondroprotective mechanotransduction pathway, we were interested in whether other components associated with NMDA signalling may be involved in the chondrocyte mechanotransduction pathways. One such component is calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). CaMKII mediates many cellular responses to elevated Ca2+ in a wide variety of cells and tissues. It is involved in the regulation of ion channels, cytoskeletal dynamics, gene transcription, neurotransmitter synthesis, insulin secretion, and cell division. CaMKII also shows a broad substrate specificity and is abundant in brain tissue, indicating that this kinase may play a number of roles in the functioning of the central nervous system. This kinase has been studied extensively in brain, but there is only a limited understanding of CaMKII in other tissues. CAMKII has four subunit isoforms (α,β,γ,δ). The α- and β-isoforms have narrow distributions restricted mainly to neuronal tissues, but the γ- and δ-isoforms are ubiquitously expressed within neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of CaMKII in normal and OA cartilage and chondrocytes, and whether this enzyme is involved in the response of chondrocytes to cyclical mechanical stimuli. Reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR), using primers specific for the different CaMKII isoforms, was carried out to assess which isoforms are expressed in human articular chondrocytes. To assess whether CaMKII is expressed in human articular chondrocytes at the protein level, cultured chondrocytes were extracted and analysed by Western blotting using a pan-CaMKII antibody. Immunohistochemistry was carried out to investigate whether CaMKII is expressed by human articular chondrocytes in vivo. Frozen sections of normal, OA and ankle cartilage were incubated for one hour with CaMKII antibody and visualised using ABC and DAB. To assess the role of CaMKII in the mechanotransduction responses of normal and OA chondrocytes, human normal and OA articular chondrocytes were mechanically stimulated at 0.33 Hz, or by addition of recombinant IL-4 for 20 minutes. Cell responses to these stimuli, in the absence or presence of an inhibitor of CaMKII were assessed by measuring changes in cell membrane potential or changes in relative levels of aggrecan mRNA compared with the housekeeping gene GAPDH. Normal, OA, and ankle chondrocytes expressed the γ and δ isoforms of CaMKII mRNA, but not the α and β isoforms as demonstrated by RT–PCR. Western blotting showed a band at ∼60 kDa consistent with the expression of CaMKII. Immunohistochemistry revealed the positive staining in the middle and deep zones, but not the superficial zone, of normal, OA, and ankle cartilage. The presence of a CaMKII inhibitor inhibits the membrane hyperpolarisation response and upregulation of aggrecan mRNA in normal chondrocytes following mechanical stimulation, but has no effect on the hyperpolarisation response to recombinant IL4. The depolarisation response of OA chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation is unaffected by the presence of the CaMKII inhibitor. The CaMKII isoforms γ and δ are expressed in both normal and OA chondrocytes, both in vitro and in vivo, but are only involved in the response of normal chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation. This response is upstream of the effect of IL4. These findings are consistent with previous findings for the NMDA receptor, and suggest that dysregulation of NMDA-CaMKII signalling may be important in onset and progression of osteoarthritis.
Keywords: Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, chondrocyte, cartilage, NMDA receptor, osteoarthritis, mechano- transduction
vol. 43, no. 3,4, pp. 223-233, 2006
Abstract: The mechanisms underlying the ability of articular cartilage to withstand and distribute the loads applied across diarthrodial joints have been widely studied. Experimental tests have been done under several configurations to reveal the tissue response to mechanical stimuli, and theoretical models have been developed for the interpretation of the experimental results. The experiments demonstrated that the tissue is non-linear with strain, both in tension and in compression, non-linear with direction of stimulus, anisotropic in tension and compression, non-homogeneous with depth, resulting in depth dependent mechanical properties, and presents fluid dependent and fluid independent viscoelasticity. None of the models up to…now developed is able to describe the whole set of responses of such a complex tissue. The purpose of this study was to develop a combined experimental-numerical approach for the proper description of the cartilage response under confined and unconfined compression. We defined a series of experimental tests to be performed on disks of natural and engineered cartilage and we developed a numerical model for cartilage, based on the biphasic theory, which potentially includes the tension–compression non-linearity, the strain non-linearity and the fluid independent viscoelasticity. The model successfully simulated the confined and unconfined compression experiments performed on disks of natural and engineered cartilage, and was also used to identify parameters of difficult experimental evaluation, such as the collagen stiffness and the permeability. In conclusion, the use of our model in combination with biomechanical experimental testing seems a valuable tool to analyze the mechanical properties of natural cartilage and the biofunctionality of tissue engineered cartilage.
Abstract: Metabolic, biochemical and biomechanical differences between ankle and knee joint cartilage and chondrocytes including resistance to the effects of catabolic cytokines and fibronectin fragments may be relevant to differences in prevalence of OA in these joints. Although there is increasing information available on how chondrocytes from knee and hip joint cartilage recognise and respond to mechanical stimuli, knowledge of mechanotransduction in ankle joint chondrocytes is limited. This study was undertaken to (i) establish whether the response of normal ankle joint derived chondrocytes to mechanical stimulation in vitro was similar to that of normal and osteoarthritic knee joint derived chondrocytes and…(ii) to investigate whether these chondrocytes showed differences in expression of integrin associated regulatory and signalling molecules. Unlike normal knee joint chondrocytes, ankle joint chondrocytes did not show an increase in relative levels of aggrecan mRNA when mechanically stimulated. No obvious change in protein tyrosine phosphorylation was seen in ankle chondrocytes subsequent to mechanical stimulation but these cells expressed elevated levels of tyrosine phosphorylated proteins at rest when compared to normal knee joint chondrocytes. Ankle joint chondrocytes showed an increase in protein kinase B phosphorylation following 1 min 0.33 Hz stimulation which was inhibited by the presence of antibodies to α5β1 integrin. Ankle joint chondrocytes appeared to show significant differences in levels of the integrin-associated proteins CD98, CD147 and galectin 3, PKCγ and differences in responses to glutamate were seen. Chondrocytes from ankle and knee joint cartilage respond differently to 0.33 Hz mechanical stimulation. This may be related to modified integrin-dependent mechanotransduction as a result of changes in expression of integrin regulatory molecules such as CD98 or differential expression and function of downstream components of the mechanotransduction pathway such as PKC or NMDA receptors.
Keywords: Cartilage, PKB, integrin, aggrecan
vol. 43, no. 3,4, pp. 249-258, 2006
Abstract: A cartilage bioreactor has been designed that is intended to approximate the kinematics of natural joints and allows for functional cartilage tissue engineering studies. In particular, interface motion can be generated by oscillation of a ball over the surface of a construct. The present study investigated the specific effect of applied articular motion on the gene expression of chondrocytes cultured in 3D scaffolds, with a particular emphasis on different superficial zone protein (SZP)/lubricin transcripts. Cylindrical porous polyurethane scaffolds were seeded with bovine articular chondrocytes and subjected to dynamic compression, with or without articulation against a ceramic hip ball. Articular motion…markedly up-regulated the mRNA expression of the four previously described and two newly identified SZP/lubricin isoforms and of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP), and, to a lesser extent, aggrecan, type II collagen and TIMPs, while axial compression alone had no effect on the chondrocytes' gene expression levels. These results demonstrate the beneficial effect of articular motion not only for stimulation of important lubricating molecules, but also for the preservation of the chondrocytic phenotype.
Keywords: Cartilage tissue engineering, surface motion, gene expression, superficial zone protein (SZP)
vol. 43, no. 3,4, pp. 259-269, 2006