Send to

Choose Destination
Biophys J. 1989 Jul;56(1):139-49.

Cortical shell-liquid core model for passive flow of liquid-like spherical cells into micropipets.

Author information

Department of Pathology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Many nonadherent cells exist as spheres in suspension and when sucked into pipets, deform continuously like liquids within the fixed surface area limitation of a plasma membrane envelope. After release, these cells eventually recover their spherical form. Consequently, pipet aspiration test provides a useful method to assay the apparent viscosity of such cells. For this purpose, we have analyzed the inertialess flow of a liquid-like model cell into a tube at constant suction pressure. The cell is modeled as a uniform liquid core encapsulated by a distinct cortical shell. The method of analysis employs a variational approach that minimizes errors in boundary conditions defined by the equations of motion for the cortical shell where the trial functions are exact solutions for the flow field inside the liquid core. For the particular case of an anisotropic liquid cortex with persistent tension, we have determined universal predictions for flow rate scaled by the ratio of excess pressure (above the threshold established by the cortical tension) and core viscosity which is the reciprocal of the dynamic resistance to entry. The results depend on pipet to cell size ratio and a parameter that characterizes the ratio of viscous flow resistance in the cortex to that inside the cytoplasmic core. The rate of entry increases markedly as the pipet size approaches the outer segment diameter of the cell. Viscous dissipation in the cortex strongly influences the entry flow resistance for small tube sizes but has little effect for large tubes. This indicates that with sufficient experimental resolution, measurement of cell entry flow with different-size pipets could establish both the cortex to cell dissipation ratio as well as the apparent viscosity of the cytoplasmic core.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center