Mechanical plasticity of cells

Navid Bonakdar, Richard Gerum, Michael Kuhn, Marina Spörrer, Anna Lippert, Werner Schneider, Katerina E Aifantis, Ben Fabry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Under mechanical loading, most living cells show a viscoelastic deformation that follows a power law in time. After removal of the mechanical load, the cell shape recovers only incompletely to its original undeformed configuration. Here, we show that incomplete shape recovery is due to an additive plastic deformation that displays the same power-law dynamics as the fully reversible viscoelastic deformation response. Moreover, the plastic deformation is a constant fraction of the total cell deformation and originates from bond ruptures within the cytoskeleton. A simple extension of the prevailing viscoelastic power-law response theory with a plastic element correctly predicts the cell behaviour under cyclic loading. Our findings show that plastic energy dissipation during cell deformation is tightly linked to elastic cytoskeletal stresses, which suggests the existence of an adaptive mechanism that protects the cell against mechanical damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1090-1094
Number of pages5
JournalNature Materials
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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    Bonakdar, N., Gerum, R., Kuhn, M., Spörrer, M., Lippert, A., Schneider, W., Aifantis, K. E., & Fabry, B. (2016). Mechanical plasticity of cells. Nature Materials, 15(10), 1090-1094. https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4689