Interaction between bending and tension forces in bilayer membranes

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16 Scopus citations


A theoretical analysis is presented of the bending mechanics of a membrane consisting of two tightly-coupled leaflets, each of which shears and bends readily but strongly resists area changes. Structures of this type have been proposed to model biological membranes such as red blood cell membrane. It is shown that when such a membrane is bent, anisotropic components of resultant membrane tension (shear stresses) are induced, even when the tension in each leaflet is isotropic. The induced shear stresses increase as the square of the membrane curvature, and become significant for moderate curvatures (when the radius of curvature is much larger than the distance between the leaflets). This effect has implications for the analysis of shape and deformation of freely suspended and flowing red blood cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-746
Number of pages4
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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