School of Engineering and Materials Science
Research Student Awards
PhD Thesis: Modelling studies on biological tissue property and mechanical responses under external stimuli
Author: LIU, Yankai
Supervisor(s): Wen Wang
Biological tissues maintain their homeostasis by remodelling under external mechanical stimuli. In order to understand the tissue remodelling process, it is important to characterize tissue properties before detailed mechanical responses can be investigated. This project aims to develop a computational modelling framework to characterise mechanical properties of biological tissues, and to quantify tissue responses under mechanical loading. The thesis presents, first, mechanical responses of articular cartilages under different loadings using a poroelastic model. Unique in this study, collagen fibrils are treated separately from the rest of ECM, as they only resists tension. This leads to a fibril-reinforced poroelastic model. Effects of the distribution of the collagen fibrils and their orientation on tissue mechanical responses are investigated. Most of the effort has been on the mechanical stress distribution of the human left atrium and its correlation to electrophysiology patterns in atrial fibrillation. Detailed mechanical responses of the atrial wall to a step pressure increase in the left atrium are calculated. The geometry of the left atrium is based on patient specific images using cardio CT and incorporates variations of the atrial wall thickness as well as unique fibre orientation patterns. We hypothesize that areas of high von Mises stress are correlated to foci of abnormal electrophysiology sites which sustain cardiac arrhythmia. Results from this study show a positive correlation between them. To our knowledge, this is the first study that establishes the relationship between the atrial wall stress distribution and the atrial abnormal electrophysiology sites. The project also investigates hyperelastic properties of endothelial cells and the overlying endothelial glycocalyx, based on data from AFM micro-indentation. Both endothelial cells with & without the glycocalyx layer (i.e. following enzymatic digestion) are used. This is the first time that the mechanical property of the glycocalyx is estimated using an inverse biomechanical model.