Characterizing Viscoelasticity of Unhydrolyzed Chicken Sternal Cartilage Extract Suspensions: Towards Development of Injectable Therapeutics Formulations

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Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials


Exogenous delivery of cartilage extract is being explored as a promising candidate for knee arthritis treatment as it biomimics native cartilage tissue characteristics. In this study, we report on the rheological characterization of aqueous suspensions constituted from a powdered form of unhydrolyzed chicken sternum extract. The effect of particle size (as-received vs. milled), suspension fluid (water vs. PBS), and temperature (37°C vs. 4°C), on the viscoelastic properties of the sternum extract based particulate suspensions were evaluated. Results showed that these suspensions exhibit shear-thinning characteristics as shear rate ( γ ̇ ) increases, while viscosity (η), storage (G′), and loss (G″) moduli of the suspensions increased with increasing particulate loading (ϕ: 2.5–10wt%). Reducing the as-received particle size by milling decreased Gʹ, G, and η of the suspensions and increased the influence of ϕ on these properties, possibly due to improved particle packing. Replacing water with PBS had no significant effect on the rheological properties, but temperature reduction from 37°C to 4°C increased Gʹ, Gʺ, and η of the suspensions and lowered the impact of powder loading on viscoelastic properties. The suspension's time-dependent response was typical of viscoelastic materials, characterized by an asymptotical approach to a final stress (stress relaxation) or strain (creep). Results were fit to a power-law model for creep, a general relaxation model for exponential decay in stress, Carreau-Yasuda models for flow curves, and a two-parameter Liu model to identify the maximum powder loading (ϕ m). Among the various forces involved in particle-particle interactions within these suspensions, electrostatic forces appeared to dominate the most. Such characterization of the viscoelastic nature of these suspensions would help in formulating stable injectable cartilage extract based therapeutics for in vivo applications.


Brian Hama was an undergraduate student when he performed this research and gratefully acknowledges the support from Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Honors College at CSU. This work was partially supported by the Summer Undergraduate Research funds from CSU Office of Research and by the National Science Foundation (CBET) grant number 1337859 to C.K.

Original Citation

B. Hama, G. Mahajan, C. Kothapalli, Characterizing viscoelasticity of unhydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract suspensions: Towards development of injectable therapeutics formulations, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. 72 (2017) 90–101. doi:10.1016/j.jmbbm.2017.04.025.