Advent of complex flows in epithelial tissues

Pilhwa Lee, Charles Wolgemuth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The collective migration of cells in tissue pervades many important biological processes, such as wound healing, organism development, and cancer metastasis. Recent experiments on wound healing show that the collective migratory behavior of cells can be quite complex, including transient vortices and long-range correlations. Here, we explore cellular flows in epithelial tissues using a model that considers the force distribution and polarity of a single cell along with cell-cell adhesion. We show that the dipole nature of a crawling cell's force distribution destabilizes steady cellular motion. We determine the values of the physical parameters that are necessary to produce these complex motions and use numerical simulation to verify the linear analysis and to demonstrate the complex flows. We find that the tendency for cells to align is the dominant physical parameter that determines the stability of steady flows in the epithelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number061920
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 27 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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