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Acta Biomater. 2012 Sep;8(9):3360-71. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2012.04.039. Epub 2012 May 2.

Continuum modeling of a neuronal cell under blast loading.

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IMDEA Materials Institute, C/ Profesor Aranguren s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Traumatic brain injuries have recently been put under the spotlight as one of the most important causes of accidental brain dysfunctions. Significant experimental and modeling efforts are thus underway to study the associated biological, mechanical and physical mechanisms. In the field of cell mechanics, progress is also being made at the experimental and modeling levels to better characterize many of the cell functions, including differentiation, growth, migration and death. The work presented here aims to bridge both efforts by proposing a continuum model of a neuronal cell submitted to blast loading. In this approach, the cytoplasm, nucleus and membrane (plus cortex) are differentiated in a representative cell geometry, and different suitable material constitutive models are chosen for each one. The material parameters are calibrated against published experimental work on cell nanoindentation at multiple rates. The final cell model is ultimately subjected to blast loading within a complete computational framework of fluid-structure interaction. The results are compared to the nanoindentation simulation, and the specific effects of the blast wave on the pressure and shear levels at the interfaces are identified. As a conclusion, the presented model successfully captures some of the intrinsic intracellular phenomena occurring during the cellular deformation under blast loading that potentially lead to cell damage. It suggests, more particularly, that the localization of damage at the nucleus membrane is similar to what has already been observed at the overall cell membrane. This degree of damage is additionally predicted to be worsened by a longer blast positive phase duration. In conclusion, the proposed model ultimately provides a new three-dimensional computational tool to evaluate intracellular damage during blast loading.

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