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On the cytoskeleton and soft glassy rheology

Journal of Biomechanics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.02.014
  • Engineering
  • Physics


Abstract The cytoskeleton is a complex structure within the cellular corpus that is responsible for the main structural properties and motilities of cells. A wide range of models have been utilized to understand cytoskeletal rheology and mechanics (see e.g. [Mofrad, M., Kamm, R., 2006. Cytoskeletal Mechanics: Models and Measurements. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge]). From this large collection of proposed models, the soft glassy rheological model (originally developed for inert soft glassy materials) has gained a certain traction in the literature due to the close resemblance of its predictions to certain mechanical data measured on cell cultures [Fabry, B., Maksym, G., Butler, J., Glogauer, M., Navajas, D., Fredberg, J., 2001. Scaling the microrheology of living cells. Physical Review Letters 87, 14102]. We first review classical linear rheological theory in a concise fashion followed by an examination of the soft glassy rheological theory. With this background we discuss the observed behavior of the cytoskeleton and the inherent limitations of classical rheological models for the cytoskeleton. This then leads into a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages presented to us by the soft glassy rheological model. We close with some comments of caution and recommendations on future avenues of exploration.

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