Cytoplasmic strains and strain rates in motile polymorphonuclear leukocytes

S. I. Simon, G. W. Schmid-Schonbein

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23 Scopus citations


A new method is presented to measure local cytoplasmic deformation and rate of deformation in motile active neutrophils. The deformation is expressed in terms of biomechanical strains and strain rates. For this purpose small phagocytosed latex microspheres were used as intracellular markers. Planar Lagrangian and Eulerian strains and the rate of strain were estimated from the positions of a triad of internalized markers. Principal strains, stretch ratios, and principal directions were computed. The intracellular strains were found to be large relative to the overall cell shape change. Principal cytoplasmic stretch ratios showed large extension in the direction of pseudopod formation and cell locomotion and contraction in perpendicular directions. Regional strain analysis showed contractile strains to predominate in the vicinity of the pseudopod or leading edge of motion. The transitional region between the pseudopod and the main cell body exhibited large shear strains. Th posterior region, where the uropod is located, also revealed large extensions but small contratile strains. The rate of strains are relatively small, nonuniform in time, and largely independent of the strain. The method we propose to measure cytoplasmic strain can be applied to a variety of problems in cell mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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