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Biorheology. 1999;36(4):319-23.

Mucus liquid crystallinity: is function related to microstructural domain size?

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Department of Chemistry, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh, UK.


The size of liquid crystalline domains formed in partially dried giraffe saliva is found to be an order of magnitude greater than that previously documented for slug pedal mucus. A correlation between (a) intrinsic liquid crystalline domain size and (b) the scale of surface topography over which the mucus is required to provide lubrication is postulated. The scale of mucus microstructure can be related, via a simple model, to two significant material constants: the elastic constant K for distortion of molecular alignment in the liquid crystalline state, and the anchoring energy I at the liquid crystal/substrate interface. In turn, the quantity K is expected to depend on fundamental molecular characteristics of the constituent mucin, such as molecular weight and degree of glycosylation. The possibility that observations of mucus microstructure might serve as a diagnostic tool for mucus defects at the molecular level is suggested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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