Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease for which no satisfactory treatment exists. Tissue engineering-based strategies have shown considerable potential for repair. Agarose is frequently used as a scaffold material, as chondrocytes maintain their phenotype and cells remain responsive to mechanical stimuli. To improve the mechanical quality of tissue engineered cartilage, recent studies aimed to reproduce the depth-dependent structure of healthy cartilage. One approach to achieve this is by applying depth-dependent mechanical stimuli via cyclically sliding a glass cylinder over the cell-seeded agarose construct [1,2]. The different strains applied to the surface and the deeper regions are expected to induce stratified matrix synthesis and therefore stratified tissue stiffness. Consequently, with the same external stimuli, the internal strain distribution may alter with ongoing tissue development. Such effect is important to understand in order to optimize mechanical loading regimes for cartilage tissue engineering.

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