A low-dimensional deformation model for cancer cells in flow

A. M. Lee, M. A. Berny-Lang, S. Liao, E. Kanso, P. Kuhn, O. J.T. McCarty, P. K. Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A low-dimensional parametric deformation model of a cancer cell under shear flow is developed. The model is built around an experiment in which MDA-MB-231 adherent cells are subjected to flow with increasing shear. The cell surface deformation is imaged using differential interference contrast microscopy imaging techniques until the cell releases into the flow. We post-process the time sequence of images using an active shape model from which we obtain the principal components of deformation. These principal components are then used to obtain the parameters in an empirical constitutive equation determining the cell deformations as a function of the fluid normal and shear forces imparted. The cell surface is modeled as a 2D Gaussian interface which can be deformed with three active parameters: H (height), sx(x-width), and sxy (y-width). Fluid forces are calculated on the cell surface by discretizing the surface with regularized Stokeslets, and the flow is driven by a stochastically fluctuating pressure gradient. The Stokeslet strengths are obtained so that viscous boundary conditions are enforced on the surface of the cell and the surrounding plate. We show that the low-dimensional model is able to capture the principal deformations of the cell reasonably well and argue that active shape models can be exploited further as a useful tool to bridge the gap between experiments, models, and numerical simulations in this biological setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number081903
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 16 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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