Grant: $300,150 - National Science Foundation - Aug. 11, 2009
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Award Description: Sprains of the knee ligaments are among the most common orthopedic injuries. They usually occur when the knee is forced beyond its normal range of motion, such as in a fall. They also happen when the knee experiences an impact, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle. These injuries can consist of a slight over-stretch, a partial tear, or a complete disruption of the ligaments. While many investigators in biomechanics have focused on quantifying the material properties of ligaments, such as tangent modulus, tensile strength, and ultimate strain, little is know of their response to mechanical stimuli that lead to partial and complete failure. In particular, studies are needed to clarify the micro-structural changes associated with partial and complete tears. For the first time, constitutive relationships that explain the role of microstructure in the damage evolution process of ligaments will be developed. These models will be derived by integrating molecular models that provide information about collagen cross-linking and collagen molecular damage with structural continuum models. The structural models will be formulated by taking into account the components of the ligamentous tissues, their geometrical arrangement, and their interactions. They will describe the typical anisotropy, nonlinearity, and inelasticity exhibited by ligamentous tissue. Together with the theoretical study, mechanical and microscopic experiments will be performed to quantify the effect of collagen intermolecular cross-linking on the failure of ligaments. Toward this end, knee ligaments harvested from two groups of animals, one fed with a normal diet and another fed with a lathyritic diet, will be subjected to different sub-failure stretches along their physiological direction. Ligaments will be examined for microscopic structural damage, and molecular fragmentation of collagen _brils will be assessed to determine how ligament failure occurs on a molecular level. This information will, in turn, be correlated to the structural models developed based upon the mechanical data. Together, these three approaches will culminate in a more complete understanding of the structure/function relationship of the components of ligament. Intellectual Merit. The successful completion of the proposed project requires a combined knowledge of theoretical and experimental mechanics of biological systems as well as molecular biology. The PIs will combine their expertise in continuum mechanics (R. De Vita), molecular modeling (J. W. Freeman), experimental mechanics (J. G. Barrett, R. De Vita and J. W. Freeman) and molecular biology (J. G. Barrett) to formulate novel models that together with mechanical and microscopic experiments will elucidate the relationship between damage development and material composition of ligaments. This research program will have a signifcant impact in the area of engineering materials for replacement grafts and biological scaffolds by offering a knowledge of mechanical and structural properties to target in developing replacements for ligaments. The results can also guide the design of braces or stretching routines to limit ligament strain so as prevent damage during stressful activities. Because ligaments possess a very well organized structure and a relatively simple composition, the research findings will contribute to understanding the failure mechanism of more complex biological soft tissues such as, for example, skin and arteries.
Project Description: As described in the Award Description field.
Jobs Summary: N/A (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 11, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.