Multi-scale adaptive model of the bone-cartilage unit in the rat knee

Scope of the method

The Method relates to
  • Animal health
  • Human health
The Method is situated in
  • Basic Research
Type of method
  • In silico


Method keywords
  • multiscale modeling
  • rat
  • knee
  • bone-cartilage unit
  • multibody dynamics
  • finite element modeling
  • adaptive model
  • joint loading
Scientific area keywords
  • biomechanics
  • osteoarthritis
  • bioengineering
  • Computational pathology
  • simulation engineering
  • modeling
Method description

This work will be based on data describing the rat hindlimb kinematics obtained by X-Ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM) and ground reaction forces following destabilization of the medial meniscus (DMM) and running. These data will be analyzed with multi-body dynamics to estimate the multi-axial mechanical environment in the knee (organ scale). The multi-axial loading estimates will be combined with adaptive models of the articular cartilage and bone (tissue scale), in order to create a multi-scale adaptive model. The resulting multi-scale adaptive model of the cartilage-bone unit in the rat knee will be validated with experimental data from small animal experiments. After validation, this computational model will be used to predict the progression of joint degeneration after DMM in the rat.

Lab equipment
  • Instrumented force plate ;
  • XROMM (University of Antwerp) ;
  • Opensource software OpenSim ;
  • FEA software Abaqus.
Method status
  • Still in development

Pros, cons & Future potential


Altered loading is widely accepted but poorly understood as a driver of OA in animal models. The multi-axial loading conditions in the knee are yet currently undocumented, due to the difficulty to measure joint mechanics without disrupting it. This computational model will contribute to a fundamental understanding of the mechano-responsiveness of the bone-cartilage unit in normal and altered loading. Such model can in the long term be adapted to predict the outcomes of OA interventions in patients (surgery, exercise). In the short-term, it will help elucidate the process of OA progression and contribute to the “Three Rs” in animal research (replacement, reduction, refinement).


The method is currently in development.

References, associated documents and other information


Pereira et al. (2015) J. of The Royal Soc. Interface 12(110):20150590

Orozco et al. (2018) Sci. Reports 8(1) 1-16

Goldring & Goldring (2016) Nat Rev Rheumatol. 12(11):632-644

Burr & Gallant (2012) Nat Rev Rheumatol.8(11):665-673

Stender et al. (2017) Comp. Biomech. Biomed. Eng. 20(3) 319-331

 Britzman et al. (2018) Scientific Reports 8(1):1-8

Contact person

Judith Piet


Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL)
Biomedical sciences
Flemish Region