Rheological analysis and measurement of neutrophil indentation

Biophys J. 2004 Dec;87(6):4246-58. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.103.031765. Epub 2004 Sep 10.


Aspects of neutrophil mechanical behavior relevant to the formation of adhesive contacts were assessed by measuring the dependence of the contact area between the cell and a spherical substrate under controlled loading. Micropipettes were used to bring neutrophils into contact with spherical beads under known forces, and the corresponding contact area was measured over time. The neutrophil was modeled as a viscous liquid drop with a constant cortical tension. Both the equilibrium state and the dynamics of the approach to equilibrium were examined. The equilibrium contact area increased monotonically with force in a manner consistent with a cell cortical tension of 16-24 pN/microm. The dynamic response matched predictions based on a model of the cell as a growing drop using published values for the effective viscosity of the cell. The contact pressure between the cell and substrate at equilibrium is predicted to depend on the curvature of the contacting substrate, but to be independent of the impingement force. The approach to equilibrium was rapid, such that the time-averaged stress for a two-second impingement was within 20% of the equilibrium value. These results have implications for the role of mechanical force in the formation of adhesive contacts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Size
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computer Simulation
  • Elasticity
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology*
  • Membrane Fluidity / physiology
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology
  • Micromanipulation / methods*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Neutrophils / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rheology / methods
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Viscosity