Complex modulus and compliance for airway smooth muscle cells
Journal article, 2020

A cell can be described as a complex viscoelastic material with structural relaxations that is modulated by thermal and chemically nonequilibrium processes. Tissue morphology and function rely upon cells' physical responses to mechanical force. We measured the frequency-dependent mechanical relaxation response of adherent human airway smooth muscle cells under adenosine triphosphate (ATP) depletion and normal ATP conditions. The frequency dependence of the complex compliance J* and modulus G* was measured over the frequencies 10(-1) < f < 10(3) Hz at selected temperatures between 4 < T < 54 degrees C. Our results show characteristic relaxation features which can be interpreted by the mode-coupling theory (MCT) of viscoelastic liquids. We analyze the shape of the spectra in terms of a so-called A(4) scenario with logarithmic scaling laws. Characteristic timescales tau(beta) and tau(alpha) appear with corresponding energy barriers E-beta approximate to (10-20)k(B) T and E-alpha approximate to (20-30)k(B)T. We demonstrate that cells are close to a glass transition. We find that the cell becomes softer around physiological temperatures, where its surface structure is more liquid-like with a plateau modulus around 0.1-0.8 kPa compared with the more solid-like interior cytoskeletal structures with a plateau modulus 1-15 kPa. Corresponding values for the viscosity are 10(2)-10(3) Pa s for the surface structures closer to the membrane and 10(4)-10(6) Pa s for the core cytoskeletal structures.


Peter Berntsen

La Trobe University

Thomas Ericsson


University of Gothenburg

Jan Swenson

Chalmers, Physics, Nano and Biophysics

Lennart Sjogren

University of Gothenburg


2470-0045 (ISSN) 2470-0053 (eISSN)

Vol. 101 3 032410

Subject Categories

Inorganic Chemistry

Physical Chemistry

Condensed Matter Physics





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