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Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2013 Oct;12(5):997-1017. doi: 10.1007/s10237-012-0459-7. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Kinematics, material symmetry, and energy densities for lipid bilayers with spontaneous curvature.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University, Montréal, QC, H3A 0C3, Canada.


Continuum mechanical tools are used to describe the deformation, energy density, and material symmetry of a lipid bilayer with spontaneous curvature. In contrast to conventional approaches in which lipid bilayers are modeled by material surfaces, here we rely on a three-dimensional approach in which a lipid bilayer is modeling by a shell-like body with finite thickness. In this setting, the interface between the leaflets of a lipid bilayer is assumed to coincide with the mid-surface of the corresponding shell-like body. The three-dimensional deformation gradient is found to involve the curvature tensors of the mid-surface in the spontaneous and the deformed states, the deformation gradient of the mid-surface, and the transverse deformation. Attention is also given to the coherency of the leaflets and to the area compatibility of the closed lipid bilayers (i.e., vesicles). A hyperelastic constitutive theory for lipid bilayers in the liquid phase is developed. In combination, the requirements of frame indifference and material symmetry yield a representation for the energy density of a lipid bilayer. This representation shows that three scalar invariants suffice to describe the constitutive response of a lipid bilayer exhibiting in-plane fluidity and transverse isotropy. In addition to exploring the geometrical and physical properties of these invariants, fundamental constitutively associated kinematical quantities are emphasized. On this basis, the effect on the energy density of assuming that the lipid bilayer is incompressible is considered. Lastly, a dimension reduction argument is used to extract an areal energy density per unit area from the three-dimensional energy density. This step explains the origin of spontaneous curvature in the areal energy density. Importantly, along with a standard contribution associated with the natural curvature of the lipid bilayer, our analysis indicates that constitutive asymmetry between the leaflets of the lipid bilayer gives rise to a secondary contribution to the spontaneous curvature.

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