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Biophys J. 1983 Jul;43(1):27-30.

Bending elastic modulus of red blood cell membrane derived from buckling instability in micropipet aspiration tests.


Observation of cell membrane buckling and cell folding in micropipette aspiration experiments was used to evaluate the bending rigidity of the red blood cell membrane. The suction pressure required to buckle the membrane surface initially was found to be about one-half to two-thirds of the pressure that caused the cell to fold and move up the pipet. A simple analytical model for buckling of a membrane disk supported at inner and outer radii correlates well with the observed buckling pressures vs. pipet radii. The buckling pressure is predicted to increase in inverse proportion to the cube of the pipet radius; also, the buckling pressure depends inversely on the radial distance to the toroidal rim of the cell, normalized by the pipet radius. As such, the pressure required to buckle the membrane with 1 X 10(-4) cm diam pipet would be about four times greater than with a 2 X 10(-4) cm pipet. This is the behavior observed experimentally. Based on analysis of the observed buckling data, the membrane bending or curvature elastic modulus is calculated to be 1.8 X 10(-12) dyn-cm.

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