Articular cartilage has a significant lubrication property that has been explained in previous studies by many theories including mixed lubrication, hydrodynamic lubrication, surface gel hydration lubrication, biphasic theory, and so on. However the mechanism of continuously low friction in articular cartilage still remains unclear. Reynaud and Quinn indicated that the hydraulic permeability was significantly anisotropic under compressive strain; the tangential permeability becomes lower than the normal permeability under compression [1]. Meanwhile scanning electron microscopic observation indicated that the superficial layer of articular surface was consisted of close-packed collagen fibers aligning parallel with articular surface and tangling each other in normal cartilage (Fig. 1). It is, therefore, suggested that the permeability is extremely low in the tangential direction when subjected to compressive strain. We have a hypothesis that the unique structure and properties in the articular cartilage superficial layer may improve the lubrication properties [2]. Therefore, we performed an analytical study using a fiber-reinforced poroelastic biphasic model to determine the effect of lateral permeability reduction in the superficial layer on the frictional property of articular cartilage.

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