Scale-Invariance in Miniature Coarse-Grained Red Blood Cells by Fluctuation Analysis

Paul Appshaw*, Annela M Seddon, Simon Hanna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


To accurately represent the morphological and elastic properties of a human red blood cell, Fu et al. [Fu \textit{et al., Lennard-Jones type pair-potential method for coarse-grained lipid bilayer membrane simulations in LAMMPS}, 2017, \textbf{210}, 193-203]. recently developed a coarse-grained molecular dynamics model with particular detail in the membrane. % \textit{in silico}, , employed utilising the molecular dynamics package LAMMPS.
However, such a model accrues an extremely high computational cost for whole-cell simulation when assuming an appropriate length scaling - that of the bilayer thickness. To date, the model has only simulated "miniature" cells in order to circumvent this, with the \textit{a priori} assumption that these miniaturised cells correctly represent their full-sized counterparts. The present work assesses the validity of this approach, by testing the scale invariance of the model through simulating cells of various diameters; first qualitatively in their shape evolution, then quantitatively by measuring their bending rigidity through fluctuation analysis. Cells of diameter of at least $0.5\upmu \mathrm{m}$ were able to form the characteristic biconcave shape of human red blood cells, though smaller cells instead equilibrated to bowl-shaped stomatocytes. Thermal fluctuation analysis showed the bending rigidity to be constant over all cell sizes tested, and consistent between measurements on the whole-cell and on a planar section of bilayer. This is as expected from the theory on both counts. Therefore, we confirm that the evaluated model is a good representation of a full-size RBC when the model diameter is $\geq 0.5\upmu \mathrm{m}$, in terms of the morphological and mechanical properties investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1747-1756
Number of pages10
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number9
Early online date7 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2022


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