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Publication Detail
A unified rheological model for cells and cellularised materials
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Bonfanti A, Fouchard J, Khalilgharibi N, Charras G, Kabla A
  • Publisher:
    The Royal Society
  • Publication date:
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  • Journal:
    Royal Society Open Science
  • Volume:
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The mechanical response of single cells and tissues exhibits a broad distribution of time-scales that often gives rise to a distinctive power-law rheology. Such complex behaviour cannot be easily captured by traditional rheological approaches, making material characterisation and predictive modelling very challenging. Here, we present a novel model combining conventional viscoelastic elements with fractional calculus that successfully captures the macroscopic relaxation response of epithelial monolayers. The parameters extracted from the fitting of the relaxation modulus allow prediction of the response of the same material to slow stretch and creep, indicating that the model captured intrinsic material properties. Two characteristic times, derived from the model parameters, delimit different regimes in the materials response. We compared the response of tissues with the behaviour of single cells as well as intra and extra-cellular components, and linked the power-law behaviour of the epithelium to the dynamics of the cell cortex. Such a unified model for the mechanical response of biological materials provides a novel and robust mathematical approach to consistently analyse experimental data and uncover similarities and differences in reported behaviour across experimental methods and research groups. It also sets the foundations for more accurate computational models of tissue mechanics.
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