Anisotropy, inhomogeneity, and tension-compression nonlinearity of human glenohumeral cartilage in finite deformation

Chun Yuh Huang, Anna Stankiewicz, Gerard A. Ateshian, Van C. Mow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


The tensile and compressive properties of human glenohumeral cartilage were determined by testing 120 rectangular strips in uniaxial tension and 70 cylindrical plugs in confined compression, obtained from five human glenohumeral joints. Specimens were harvested from five regions across the articular surface of the humeral head and two regions on the glenoid. Tensile strips were obtained along two orientations, parallel and perpendicular to the split-line directions. Two serial slices through the thickness, corresponding to the superficial and middle zones of the cartilage layers, were prepared from each tensile strip and each compressive plug. The equilibrium tensile modulus and compressive aggregate modulus of cartilage were determined from the uniaxial tensile and confined compression tests, respectively. Significant differences in the tensile moduli were found with depth and orientation relative to the local split-line direction. Articular cartilage of the humeral head was significantly stiffer in tension than that of the glenoid. There were significant differences in the aggregate compressive moduli of articular cartilage between superficial and middle zones in the humeral head. Furthermore, tensile and compressive stress-strain responses exhibited nonlinearity under finite strain, while the tensile modulus differed by up to two orders of magnitude from the compressive aggregate modulus at 0% strain, demonstrating a high degree of tension-compression nonlinearity. The complexity of the mechanical properties of human glenohumeral cartilage was exposed in this study, showing anisotropy, inhomogeneity, and tension-compression nonlinearity within the same joint. The observed differences in the tensile properties of human glenohumeral cartilage suggest that the glenoid may be more susceptible to cartilage degeneration than the humeral head.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-809
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Anisotropy
  • Articular cartilage
  • Glenohumeral joint
  • Inhomogeneity
  • Mechanical properties
  • Tension-compression nonlinearity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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