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Biophys J. 1978 Nov;24(2):463-87.

Theoretical and experimental studies on viscoelastic properties of erythrocyte membrane.


The deformation of a portion of erythrocyte during aspirational entry into a micropipette has been analyzed on the basis of a constant area deformation of an infinite plane membrane into a cylindrical tube. Consideration of the equilibrium of the membrane at the tip of the pipette has generated the relation between the aspirated length and the dimensionless time during deformational entry as well as during relaxation after the removal of aspiration pressure. Experimental studies on deformation and relaxation of normal human erythrocytes were performed with the use of micropipettes and a video dimension analyzer which allowed the continuous recording of the time-courses. The deformation consisted of an initial rapid phase with a membrane viscosity (range 0.6 x 10(-4) to 4 x 10(-4) dyn.s/cm) varying inversely with the degree of deformation and a later slow phase with a high membrane viscosity (mean 2.06 x 10(-2) dyn.s/cm) which was not correlated with the degree of deformation. The membrane viscosity of the recovery phase after 20 s of deformation (mean 5.44 x 10(-4) dyn.s/cm) was also independent of the degree of deformation. When determined after a short period of deformation (e.g., 2 s), however, membrane viscosity of the recovery phase became lower and agreed with that of the deformation phase. These results suggest that the rheological properties of the membrane can undergo dynamic changes depending on the extent and duration of deformation, reflecting molecular rearrangement in response to membrane strain.

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