Viscoelastic properties of human and bovine articular cartilage: a comparison of frequency-dependent trends

Duncan K. Temple, Anna A. Cederlund, Bernard M. Lawless, Richard M. Aspden, Richard M. Aspden, Daniel M. Espino

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BackgroundThe purpose of this study was to compare the frequency-dependent viscoelastic properties of human and bovine cartilage.
MethodsFull-depth cartilage specimens were extracted from bovine and human femoral heads. Using dynamic mechanical analysis, the viscoelastic properties of eight bovine and six human specimens were measured over the frequency range 1 Hz to 88 Hz. Significant differences between bovine and human cartilage viscoelastic properties were assessed using a Mann–Whitney test (p < 0.05).
ResultsThroughout the range of frequencies tested and for both species, the storage modulus was greater than the loss modulus and both were frequency-dependent. The storage and loss moduli of all human and bovine cartilage specimens presented a logarithmic relationship with respect to frequency. The mean human storage modulus ranged from 31.9 MPa to 43.3 MPa, while the mean bovine storage modulus ranged from 54.0 MPa to 80.5 MPa; bovine storage moduli were 1.7 to 1.9 times greater than the human modulus. Similarly, the loss modulus of bovine cartilage was 2.0 to 2.1 times greater than human. The mean human loss modulus ranged from 5.3 MPa to 8.5 MPa while bovine moduli ranged from 10.6 MPa to 18.1 MPa.
ConclusionFrequency-dependent viscoelastic trends of bovine articular cartilage were consistent with those of human articular cartilage; this includes a similar frequency dependency and high-frequency plateau. Bovine cartilage was, however, ‘stiffer’ than human by a factor of approximately 2. With these provisos, bovine articular cartilage may be a suitable dynamic model for human articular cartilage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number419
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note


The authors would like to thank Spencer C. Barnes and Hamid Sadeghi for assistance during experimentation. We would also like to thank patients donating tissue and the surgeons collecting these.


The equipment used in this study was funded by Arthritis Research UK (Grant number H0671). We are grateful to Arthritis Research UK for the award of a PhD studentship to Anna A. Cederlund (Grant number 19971). Arthritis Research UK had no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.


  • articular cartilage
  • bovine
  • frequency
  • human
  • loss
  • modulus
  • storage
  • viscoelastic properties


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