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Biophys J. 2004 Jan;86(1 Pt 1):576-88.

Hydrodynamic forces applied on intercellular bonds, soluble molecules, and cell-surface receptors.

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Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14260, USA.


Cells and biomolecules exposed to blood circulation experience hydrodynamic forces that affect their function. We present a methodology to estimate fluid forces and force loading rates applied on cellular aggregates, cell-surface proteins, and soluble molecules. Low Reynolds-number hydrodynamic theory is employed. Selected results are presented for biological cases involving platelets, neutrophils, tumor cells, GpIb-like cell-surface receptors, and plasma von Willebrand factor (vWF)-like soluble proteins. Calculations reveal the following: 1), upon application of constant linear shear, cell aggregates and biomolecules experience time-varying forces due to their tumbling motion. 2), In comparison to neutrophil homotypic aggregates, the maximum force applied on neutrophil-platelet aggregates is approximately threefold lower. Thus, alterations in cell size may dramatically alter adhesion molecule requirement for efficient cell binding. Whereas peak forces on homotypic cell doublets are tensile, shear forces dominate in heterotypic doublets with radius ratio <0.3. 3), The peak forces on platelet GpIb and von Willebrand factor are of comparable magnitude. However, they are orders-of-magnitude lower than those applied on intercellular bonds. Charts are provided to rapidly evaluate the magnitude of hydrodynamic force and rotation time-period occurring in any given experiment. The calculation scheme may find application in studies of vascular biology and receptor biophysics.

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