Transport of fluid and ions through a porous-permeable charged-hydrated tissue, and streaming potential data on normal bovine articular cartilage

W. Y. Gu, W. M. Lai, V. C. Mow

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141 Scopus citations


Using the triphasic mechano-electrochemical theory [Lai et al., J. biomech. Engng 113, 245-258 (1991)], we analyzed the transport of water and ions through a finite-thickness layer of charged, hydrated soft tissue (e.g. articular cartilage) in a one-dimensional steady permeation experiment. For this problem, we obtained numerically the concentrations of the ions, the strain field and the fluid and ion velocities inside when the specimen is subject to an applied mechanical pressure and/or osmotic pressure across the layer. The relationships giving the dependence of streaming potential and permeability on the negative fixed charge density (FCD) of the tissue were derived analytically for the linear case, and calculated For the nonlinear case. Among the results obtained were: (1) at a fluid pressure difference of 0.1 MPa across the specimen layer, there is a 10% flow-induced compaction at the downstream boundary; (2) the flow-induced compaction causes the FCD to increase and the neutral salt concentration to decrease in the downstream direction; (3) while both ions move downstream, relative to the solvent (water), the anions (Cl-) move with the flow whereas cations (Na+) move against the flow. The difference in ion velocities depends on the FCD, and this difference attained a maximum at a physiological FCD of around 0.2 meq ml-1; (4) the apparent permeability decreases nonlinearly with FCD, and the apparent stiffness of the tissue increases with FCD; and (5) the streaming potential is not a monotonic function of the FCD but rather it has a maximum value within the physiological range of FCD for articular cartilage. Finally, experimental data on streaming potential were obtained from bovine femoral cartilage. These data support the triphasic theoretical prediction of non-monotonicity of streaming potential as a function of the FCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-723
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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