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How physics can bring impact to health science: optical techniques for…


" Pathophysiological aspect of malaria infection and sickle cell disease (SCD) is largely determined by biomechanical properties of red blood cells (RBCs) and their hemodynamical properties in circulatory system [1-3]. Here we present the biomechanical properties of individual red blood cells (RBCs) from patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Using an optical imaging technique [4], we non-invasively quantify membrane fluctuation in RBCs at the nanometer and millisecond scale, which is analyzed with the mathematical model to retrieve four important mechanical properties of RBCs; bending modulus, shear modulus, area expansion modulus, and cytoplasmic viscosity [5]. We find high cytoplasmic viscosities in RBC with SCD. Mechanical properites of membrane cortex (bending modulus, shear modulus, and area expansion modulus) of irreversibly sickle cell is much stiffer than other types in SCD [6].


[1] G. Barabino, M. Platt, and D. Kaul, “Sickle Cell Biomechanics,” Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering, 12, 345-367 (2010).

[2] Y. Park, M. Diez-Silva, G. Popescu et al., “Refractive index maps and membrane dynamics of human red blood cells parasitized by Plasmodium falciparum,” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105(37), 13730-5 (2008).

[3] S. Cho, S. Kim, Y. Kim et al., “Optical imaging techniques for the study of malaria,” Trends in biotechnology, 30(2), 71-79 (2011).

[4] Y. K. Park, G. Popescu, K. Badizadegan et al., “Diffraction phase and fluorescence microscopy,” Optics Express, 14(18), 8263-8268 (2006).

[5] Y. Park, C. Best, K. Badizadegan et al., “Measurement of red blood cell mechanics during morphological changes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(15), 6731 (2010).

[6] H.-S. Byun, J. Higgins, M. Diez-Silva et al., “Non-invasive measurement of biomechanical properties of individual erythrocytes from sickle cell anemia patients,” Acta Biomat., (under review)."