Mechanical characterization of human red blood cells under different osmotic conditions by robotic manipulation with optical tweezers

Youhua Tan, Dong Sun, Jinzhi Wang, Wenhao Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


The physiological functions of human red blood cells (RBCs) play a crucial role to human health and are greatly influenced by their mechanical properties. Any alteration of the cell mechanics may cause human diseases. The osmotic condition is an important factor to the physiological environment, but its effect on RBCs has been little studied. To investigate this effect, robotic manipulation technology with optical tweezers is utilized in this paper to characterize the mechanical properties of RBCs in different osmotic conditions. The effectiveness of this technology is demonstrated first in the manipulation of microbeads. Then the optical tweezers are used to stretch RBCs to acquire the forcedeformation relationships. To extract cell properties from the experimental data, a mechanical model is developed for RBCs in hypotonic conditions by extending our previous work , and the finite element model is utilized for RBCs in isotonic and hypertonic conditions. Through comparing the modeling results to the experimental data, the shear moduli of RBCs in different osmotic solutions are characterized, which shows that the cell stiffness increases with elevated osmolality. Furthermore, the property variation and potential biomedical significance of this study are discussed. In conclusion, this study indicates that the osmotic stress has a significant effect on the cell properties of human RBCs, which may provide insight into the pathology analysis and therapy of some human diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5416305
Pages (from-to)1816-1825
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell modeling
  • human red blood cell (RBC)
  • optical tweezers
  • osmotic stress
  • robotic manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical characterization of human red blood cells under different osmotic conditions by robotic manipulation with optical tweezers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this