Anisotropic stiffness and tensional homeostasis induce a natural anisotropy of volumetric growth and remodeling in soft biological tissues
AbstractGrowth in soft biological tissues in general results in anisotropic changes of the tissue geometry. It remains a key challenge in biomechanics to understand, quantify, and predict this anisotropy. In this paper, we demonstrate that anisotropic tissue stiffness and the well-known mechanism of tensional homeostasis induce a natural anisotropy of the geometric changes resulting from volumetric growth in soft biological tissues. As a rule of thumb, this natural anisotropy makes differential tissue volume elements dilate mainly in the direction(s) of lowest stiffness. This simple principle is shown to explain the experimentally observed growth behavior in a host of different soft biological tissues without relying on any additional heuristic assumptions or quantities (such as ad hoc defined growth tensors).