Biaxial biomechanical properties of the nonpregnant murine cervix and uterus

Cassandra K. Conway, Hamna J. Qureshi, Victoria L. Morris, Elvis K. Danso, Laurephile Desrosiers, Leise R. Knoepp, Craig J. Goergen, Kristin S. Miller
Journal of Biomechanics2019
From a biomechanical perspective, female reproductive health is an understudied area of research. There is an incomplete understanding of the complex function and interaction between the cervix and uterus. This, in part, is due to the limited research into multiaxial biomechanical functions and geometry of these organs. Knowledge of the biomechanical function and interaction between these organs may elucidate etiologies of conditions such as preterm birth. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify the multiaxial biomechanical properties of the murine cervix and uterus using a biaxial testing set-up. To accomplish this, an inflation-extension testing protocol (n = 15) was leveraged to quantify biaxial biomechanical properties while preserving native matrix interactions and geometry. Ultrasound imaging and histology (n = 10) were performed to evaluate regional geometry and microstructure, respectively. Histological analysis identified a statistically significant greater collagen content and significantly smaller smooth muscle content in the cervix as compared to the uterus. No statistically significant differences in elastic fibers were identified. Analysis of bilinear fits revealed a significantly stiffer response from the circumferentially orientated ECM fibers compared to axially orientated fibers in both organs. Bilinear fits and a two-fiber family constitutive model showed that the cervix was significantly less distensible than the uterus. We submit that the regional biaxial information reported in this study aids in establishing an appropriate reference configuration for mathematical models of the uterine-cervical complex. Thus, may aid future work to elucidate the biomechanical mechanisms leading to cervical or uterine conditions.
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