The Effect of the Contents of the Human Red Blood Cell on Its Deformability

[+] Author and Article Information
E. A. Moffatt, E. H. Harris

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

J. Basic Eng 94(2), 363-367 (Jun 01, 1972) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3425423 History: Received August 02, 1971; Online October 27, 2010


A review of the two main theories of red cell structure is given. One theory asserts that the cell structure is simply an elastic membrane around liquid contents, while the counter theory contends that there is an internal structure to the cell which supports the membrane shape. An experiment is reported which tests the effect of the structural contents of the red cell on its deformability. A comparison of the force-deformation characteristics of intact red cells and red cell ghosts is made. The deformabilities are compared by measuring the distances which intact red cells and red cell ghosts move down the inside of a tapered glass tube under the same pressure head before they lodge inside the tube. The results of the experiment indicate a negligible difference in the deformabilities of red cells and ghosts. These results do not disprove the existence of an internal structure; they do assert that the contents are structurally insignificant.

Copyright © 1972 by ASME
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