Energy Dissipation in the Human Red Cell Membrane

The membrane of the human red cell consists of a lipid bilayer and a so-called membrane skeleton attached on the cytoplasmic side of the bilayer. Upon the deformation of red cells, energy is dissipated in their cytoplasm and their membrane. As to the membrane, three contributions can be distinguished: (i) A two-dimensional shear deformation with the membrane viscosity as the frictional parameter; (ii) A motion of the membrane skeleton relative to the bilayer; (iii) A relative motion of the two monolayers of the bilayer. The frictional parameter in contributions (ii) and (iii) is a frictional coefficient specific for the respective contribution. This perspective describes the history up to recent advances in the knowledge of these contributions. It reviews the mechanisms of energy dissipation on a molecular scale and suggests new ones, particularly for the first contribution. It proposes a parametric fitting expected to shed light on the discrepant values found for the membrane viscosity by different experimental approaches. It proposes strategies that could allow the determination of the frictional coefficients pertaining to the second and the third contribution. It highlights the consequences characteristic times have on the state of the red cell membrane in circulation as well as on the adaptation of computer models to the red cell history in an in vitro experiment.


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