An understanding of chondrocyte mechanotransduction requires knowledge of the deformational fields within the tissue. Since the study of chondrocyte mechanotransduction in articular cartilage explants is hampered by its inhomogeneous biochemical composition and biomechanical properties, investigators have performed loading studies of chondrocyte-suspended hydrogel polymer systems such as agarose [1]. Prior to significant matrix elaboration by the cells, the agarose offers a uniform, uncharged three-dimensional (3D) mechanical environment for chondrocytes [2,3]. In this study, a technique, which combines video microscopy [4] and digital image correlation [5], was used to provide a novel characterization of the temporal changes in displacement field, apparent Young’s Modulus and apparent Poisson’s ratio of free swelling chondrocyte-seeded agarose constructs. Biochemical analysis was performed to permit correlation of these parameters with matrix elaboration.

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