Proteoglycans and Type II collagen represent the two major biochemical constituents of articular cartilage. Collagen fibrils in cartilage resist the swelling pressure that arises from the fixed charges of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and together they give rise to the tissue’s unique load bearing properties. As articular cartilage exhibits a poor intrinsic healing capacity, there is significant research in the development of cell-based therapies for cartilage repair. In some of our tissue engineering studies, we have observed a phenomenon where chondrocyte-seeded hydrogel constructs display cracking in their central regions after significant GAG content has been elaborated in culture. A theoretical analysis was performed to gain greater insights into the potential role that the spatial distribution of proteoglycan and collagen may play in this observed response.

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