New findings confirm the viscoelastic behaviour of the interlamellar matrix of the disc annulus fibrosus in radial and circumferential directions of loading

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    Abstract

    While few studies have improved our understanding of composition and organization of elastic fibres in the inter-lamellar matrix (ILM), its clinical relevance is not fully understood. Moreover, no studies have measured the direct tensile and shear failure and viscoelastic properties of the ILM. Therefore, the aim of this study was, for the first time, to measure the viscoelastic and failure properties of the ILM in both the tension and shear directions of loading. Using an ovine model, isolated ILM samples were stretched to 40% of their initial length at three strain rates of 0.1%s −1 (slow), 1%s −1 (medium) and 10%s −1 (fast) and a ramp test to failure was performed at a strain rate of 10%s −1 . The findings from this study identified that the stiffness of the ILM was significantly larger at faster strain rates, and energy absorption significantly smaller, compared to slower strain rates, and the viscoelastic and failure properties were not significantly different under tension and shear loading. We found a strain rate dependent response of the ILM during dynamic loading, particularly at the fastest rate. The ILM demonstrated a significantly higher capability for energy absorption at slow strain rates compared to medium and fast strain rates. A significant increase in modulus was found in both loading directions and all strain rates, having a trend of larger modulus in tension and at faster strain rates. The finding of no significant difference in failure properties in both loading directions, was consistent with our previous ultra-structural studies that revealed a well-organized (±45°) elastic fibre orientation in the ILM. The results from this study can be used to develop and validate finite element models of the AF at the tissue scale, as well as providing new strategies for fabricating tissue engineered scaffolds. Statement of significance: While few studies have improved our understanding of composition and organization of elastic fibres in the inter-lamellar matrix (ILM) of the annulus in the disc no studies have measured the direct mechanical failure and viscoelastic properties of the ILM. The findings from this study identified that the stiffness of the ILM was significantly larger at faster strain rates, and energy absorption significantly smaller, compared to slower strain rates. The failure properties of the ILM were not significantly different under tension and shear.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411-419
    Number of pages9
    JournalActa Biomaterialia
    Volume71
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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