A high throughput mechanical screening device for cartilage tissue engineering

Bhavana Mohanraj, Chieh Hou, Gregory R. Meloni, Brian D. Cosgrove, George R. Dodge, Robert L. Mauck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Articular cartilage enables efficient and near-frictionless load transmission, but suffers from poor inherent healing capacity. As such, cartilage tissue engineering strategies have focused on mimicking both compositional and mechanical properties of native tissue in order to provide effective repair materials for the treatment of damaged or degenerated joint surfaces. However, given the large number design parameters available (e.g. cell sources, scaffold designs, and growth factors), it is difficult to conduct combinatorial experiments of engineered cartilage. This is particularly exacerbated when mechanical properties are a primary outcome, given the long time required for testing of individual samples. High throughput screening is utilized widely in the pharmaceutical industry to rapidly and cost-effectively assess the effects of thousands of compounds for therapeutic discovery. Here we adapted this approach to develop a high throughput mechanical screening (HTMS) system capable of measuring the mechanical properties of up to 48 materials simultaneously. The HTMS device was validated by testing various biomaterials and engineered cartilage constructs and by comparing the HTMS results to those derived from conventional single sample compression tests. Further evaluation showed that the HTMS system was capable of distinguishing and identifying 'hits', or factors that influence the degree of tissue maturation. Future iterations of this device will focus on reducing data variability, increasing force sensitivity and range, as well as scaling-up to even larger (96-well) formats. This HTMS device provides a novel tool for cartilage tissue engineering, freeing experimental design from the limitations of mechanical testing throughput.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2130-2136
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 27 2014


  • 3D culture
  • High throughput screening
  • Mechanical testing

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