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Biophys J. 1988 Aug;54(2):331-6.

Leukocyte relaxation properties.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.


Study of the mechanical properties of leukocytes is useful to understand their passage through narrow capillaries and interaction with other cells. Leukocytes are known to be viscoelastic and their properties have been established by micropipette aspiration techniques. Here, the recovery of leukocytes to their normal spherical form is studied after prolonged deformation in a pipette which is large enough to permit complete entry of the leukocyte. The recovery history is characterized by the time history of the major diameter (d1) and minor diameter (d2). When the cell is removed from the pipette, it shows initially a small rapid recoil followed by a slower asymptotic recovery to the spherical shape. In the presence of cell activation and formation of pseudopods, the time history for recovery is prolonged compared with passive cell recovery. If a protopod pre-existed during the holding period, the recovery only begins when the protopod starts to retract.

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