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Red cell extensional recovery and the determination of membrane viscosity.

  • R M Hochmuth
  • P R Worthy
  • E A Evans
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1979


A theory of membrane viscoelasticity developed by Evans and Hochmuth in 1976 is used to analyze the time-dependent recovery of an elongated cell. Before release, the elongated cell is the static equilibrium where external forces are balanced by membrane elastic force resultants. Upon release, the cell recovers its initial shape with a time-dependent exponential behavior characteristic of the viscoelastic solid model. It is shown that the model describes the time-dependent recovery process very well for a time constant in the range of 0.1-0.13 s. The time constant is the ratio membrane surface viscosity eta:membrane surface elasticity mu. Measurements for the shear modulus mu of 0.006 dyne/cm give a value for the surface viscosity of red cell membrane as a viscoelastic solid material of eta = mu tc = (6-8) X 10(-4) poise . cm.

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