Mechanical properties of the red cell membrane skeleton: Analysis of axisymmetric deformations

V. S. Markin, M. M. Kozlov

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15 Scopus citations


The mechanical properties of erythrocyte membrane composed of a membrane bilayer and membrane skeleton are considered. Two membrane models are described: the model of free boundaries (MFB) and the model of immobilized boundaries (MIB). In MFB, the skeleton is assumed to be attached to the bilayer at a finite number of points, whereas MIB allows the interaction of each spectrin filament with the bilayer along its whole length. For MFB an estimate was made of the mechanical strain generated in the membrane by sucking erythrocytes into a micropipette. The existence of the deformation threshold is demonstrated, below which no mechanical strain, except that of bending, appears in the membrane. Thus only deformations exceeding this threshold result in strain. The relationship between the applied tension and the height of erythrocyte "tongue" sucked into a micropipette was determined. The MIB characteristics correspond to the model of Evans: strains in the membrane are generated at any deformation, however small, i.e. the threshold is equal to zero. A basic feature of this model is quite a different distribution of the skeleton deformations in the membrane. A comparison of the theoretical models and experimental data demonstrated the possibility of either MFB or MIB occurring, depending on the characteristic measurement time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-167
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 21 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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