Mounting evidence suggests that cells within soft tissues seek to maintain a preferred biomechanical state. Residual stress is defined as the stress that remains in a tissue when all external loads are removed and contributes to tissue mechanohomeostasis by decreasing the transmural gradient of wall stress. Current computational models of pelvic floor mechanics, however, often do not consider residual stress. Residual strain, a result of residual stress can be quantitatively measured through opening angle experiments. Therefore, the objective of this study is to quantify the regional variations in opening angles along the murine female reproductive system at estrus and diestrus, to quantify residual strain in the maintenance state of sexually mature females. Further, evidence suggests that hydrophilic glycosaminoglycan/proteoglycans are integral to cervical remodeling. Thus, variations in opening angles following hypo-osmotic loading are evaluated. Opening angle experiments were performed along the murine reproductive system in estrus (n = 8) and diestrus (n = 8) and placed in hypo-osmotic solution. Measurements of thickness and volume were also obtained for each group. Differences (p < 0.05) in opening angle were observed with respect to region and loading, however, differences with respect to estrous stage were not significant. Thickness values were significant (p < 0.05) with respect to region only. The effects of both estrous cycle and region resulted in significant differences (p < 0.05) in observed volume. The observed regional differences indicate variation in the stress-free state among the reproductive system which may have implications for future computational models to advance women's reproductive health.
Keywords: Cervix; Opening angle; Pelvic floor; Vagina; Women’s reproductive health.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.