Mechanical stress is an important factor in the regulation of chondrocyte metabolism and the maintenance of the cartilage extracellular matrix. Previous studies have shown that compression of cartilage explants alters cellular metabolism in a time- and spatially-varying manner which is correlated with the mechanical environment within the extracellular matrix [1]. Furthermore, cellular response has been shown to be influenced by mechanical, electrical, and physicochemical events which are coupled to deformation of the cells and the extracellular matrix. Therefore, detailed information on the stress-strain and physicochemical environments of individual cells in response to mechanical and osmotic stresses would improve our understanding of the sequence of events involved in mechanical signal transduction [2–4]. The goal of this study was to quantify the osmotic and viscoelastic properties of isolated chondrocytes and to test the hypothesis that the mechanical properties of the chondrocyte are influenced by their physicochemical (osmotic) environment.

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