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Biophys J. 1999 Feb;76(2):1145-51.

A new determination of the shear modulus of the human erythrocyte membrane using optical tweezers.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biorheologie et d'Hydrodynamique Physico-Chimique, ESA 7057 associee au CNRS et aux Universites Paris 6 et Paris 7, 75251 Paris cedex 05, France.


Optical tweezers are used to apply calibrated forces to human erythrocytes, via small silica beads bound to their membrane. The shear modulus mu of the membrane is inferred from measurements of the cell deformation in the small strain linear regime. We find the same result mu = 2.5 +/- 0.4 microN/m for both discotic and nearly spherical swollen cells. This value is smaller than the one deduced from micropipettes experiments. However the two methods do not operate in the same deformation regime and are not expected to lead to the same result.

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