Bistability of cell adhesion in shear flow

Biophys J. 2011 Sep 7;101(5):1032-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.07.026.


Cell adhesion plays a central role in multicellular organisms helping to maintain their integrity and homeostasis. This complex process involves many different types of adhesion proteins, and synergetic behavior of these proteins during cell adhesion is frequently observed in experiments. A well-known example is the cooperation of rolling and stationary adhesion proteins during the leukocytes extravasation. Despite the fact that such cooperation is vital for proper functioning of the immune system, its origin is not fully understood. In this study we constructed a simple analytic model of the interaction between a leukocyte and the blood vessel wall in shear flow. The model predicts existence of cell adhesion bistability, which results from a tug-of-war between two kinetic processes taking place in the cell-wall contact area-bond formation and rupture. Based on the model results, we suggest an interpretation of several cytoadhesion experiments and propose a simple explanation of the existing synergy between rolling and stationary adhesion proteins, which is vital for effective cell adherence to the blood vessel walls in living organisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Vessels / cytology
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Leukocyte Rolling
  • Leukocytes / cytology
  • Leukocytes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Shear Strength*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules