Lamellar and fibre bundle mechanics of the annulus fibrosus in bovine intervertebral disc
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Reason for embargo
The intervertebral disc is a multicomposite structure, with an outer fibrous ring, the annulus fibrosus, retaining a gel-like core, the nucleus pulposus. The disc presents complex mechanical behaviour, and it is of high importance for spine biomechanics. Advances in multiscale modelling and disc repair raised a need for new quantitative data on the finest details of annulus fibrosus mechanics. In this work we explored inter-lamella and inter-bundle behaviour of the outer annulus using micromechanical testing and second harmonic generation microscopy. Twenty-one intervertebral discs were dissected from cow tails; the nucleus and inner annulus were excised to leave a ring of outer annulus, which was tested in circumferential loading while imaging the tissue’s collagen fibres network with sub-micron resolution. Custom software was developed to determine local tissue strains through image analysis. Inter-bundle linear and shear strains were 5.5 and 2.8 times higher than intra-bundle strains. Bundles tended to remain parallel while rotating under loading, with large slipping between them. Inter-lamella linear strain was almost 3 times the intra-lamella one, but no slipping was observed at the junction between lamellae. This study confirms that outer annulus straining is mainly due to bundles slipping and rotating. Further development of disc multiscale modelling and repair techniques should take into account this modular behaviour of the lamella, rather than considering it as a homogeneous fibre-reinforced matrix.
Henry Smith Charity
Available online 6 April 2016