Under physiological conditions of loading, articular cartilage is subjected to both compressive strains, normal to the articular surface, and tensile strains, tangential to the articular surface. Previous studies have shown that articular cartilage exhibits a much higher modulus in tension than compression. Theoretical analyses have suggested that this tension-compression nonlinearity enhances the magnitude of interstitial fluid pressurization during loading in unconfined compression, above a theoretical threshold of 33% of the average applied stress. The first hypothesis of this experimental study is that the peak fluid load support in unconfined compression is significantly greater than the 33% theoretical limit predicted for porous permeable tissues modeled with equal moduli in tension and compression [1]. The second hypothesis is that the peak fluid load support is higher at the articular surface side of the tissue samples than near the deep zone, because the disparity between the tensile and compressive moduli is greater at the surface zone.

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