A numerical analysis of forces exerted by laminar flow on spreading cells in a parallel plate flow chamber assay.
Exposure of spreading anchorage-dependent cells to laminar flow is a common technique to measure the strength of cell adhesion. Since cells protrude into the flow stream, the force exerted by the fluid on the cells is a function of cell shape. To assess the relationship between cell shape and the hydrodynamic force on adherent cells, we obtained numerical solutions of the velocity and stress fields around bovine aortic endothelial cells during various stages of spreading and calculated the force required to detach the cells. Morphometric parameters were obtained from light and scanning electron microscopy measurements. Cells were assumed to have a constant volume, but the surface area increased during spreading until the membrane was stretched taut. Two-dimensional models of steady flow were generated using the software packages ANSYS (mesh generation) and FIDAP (problem solution). The validity of the numerical results was tested by comparison with published results for a semicircle in contact with the surface. The drag force and torque were greatest for round cells making initial contact with the surface. During spreading, the drag force and torque declined by factors of 2 and 20, respectively. The calculated forces and moments were used in adhesion models to predict the wall shear stress at which the cells detached. Based upon published values for the bond force and receptor number, round cells should detach at shear stresses between 2.5 and 6 dyn/cm(2), whereas substantially higher stresses are needed to detach spreading and fully spread cells. Results from the simulations indicate that (1) the drag force varies little with cell shape whereas the torque is very sensitive to cell shape, and (2) the increase in the strength of adhesion during spreading is due to increased contact area and receptor densities within the contact area.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)