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Biophys J. 2013 Aug 20;105(4):872-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.06.045.

Yield strength of human erythrocyte membranes to impulsive stretching.

Author information

1
School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Abstract

Deformability while remaining viable is an important mechanical property of cells. Red blood cells (RBCs) deform considerably while flowing through small capillaries. The RBC membrane can withstand a finite strain, beyond which it ruptures. The classical yield areal strain of 2-4% for RBCs is generally accepted for a quasi-static strain. It has been noted previously that this threshold strain may be much larger with shorter exposure duration. Here we employ an impulse-like forcing to quantify this yield strain of RBC membranes. In the experiments, RBCs are stretched within tens of microseconds by a strong shear flow generated from a laser-induced cavitation bubble. The deformation of the cells in the strongly confined geometry is captured with a high-speed camera and viability is successively monitored with fluorescence microscopy. We find that the probability of cell survival is strongly dependent on the maximum strain. Above a critical areal strain of ∼40%, permanent membrane damage is observed for 50% of the cells. Interestingly, many of the cells do not rupture immediately and exhibit ghosting, but slowly obtain a round shape before they burst. This observation is explained with structural membrane damage leading to subnanometer-sized pores. The cells finally lyse from the colloidal osmotic pressure imbalance.

PMID:
23972839
PMCID:
PMC3752135
DOI:
10.1016/j.bpj.2013.06.045
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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