Apparent viscosity and cortical tension of blood granulocytes determined by micropipet aspiration

Biophys J. 1989 Jul;56(1):151-60. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(89)82660-8.


Continuous deformation and entry flow of single blood granulocytes into small caliber micropipets at various suction pressures have been studied to determine an apparent viscosity for the cell contents and to estimate the extent that dissipation in a cortical layer adjacent to the cell surface contributes to the total viscous flow resistance. Experiments were carried out with a wide range of pipet sizes (2.0-7.5 microns) and suction pressures (10(2)-10(4) dyn/cm2) to examine the details of the entry flow. The results show that the outer cortex of the cell maintains a small persistent tension of approximately 0.035 dyn/cm. The tension creates a threshold pressure below which the cell will not enter the pipet. The superficial plasma membrane of these cells appears to establish an upper limit to surface dilation which is reached after microscopic "ruffles" and "folds" have been pulled smooth. With aspiration of cells by small pipets (less than 2.7 microns), the limit to surface expansion was derived from the maximal extension of the cell into the pipet; final areas were measured to be 2.1 to 2.2 times the area of the initial spherical shape. For suctions in excess of a threshold, the response to constant pressure was continuous flow in proportion to excess pressure above the threshold with only a small nonlinearity over time until the cell completely entered the pipet (for pipet calibers greater than 2.7 microns). With a theoretical model introduced in a companion paper, (Yeung, A., and E. Evans., 1989, Biophys. J. 56:139-149) the entry flow response versus pipet size and suction pressure was analyzed to estimate the apparent viscosity of the cell interior and the ratio of cortical flow resistance to flow resistance from the cell interior. The apparent viscosity was found to depend strongly on temperature with values on the order of 2 x 10(3) poise at 23 degrees C, lower values of 1 x 10(3) poise at 37 degrees C, but extremely large values in excess of 10(4) poise below 10 degrees C. Because of scatter in cell response, it was not possible to accurately establish the characteristic ratio for flow resistance in the cortex to that inside the cell; however, the data showed that the cortex does not contribute significantly to the total flow resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Granulocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pressure
  • Video Recording
  • Viscosity