Numerical simulation of a single cell passing through a narrow slit

L. L. Xiao, Yang Liu, S. Chen, B. M. Fu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The narrow slit between endothelial cells that line the microvessel wall is the principal pathway for tumor cell extravasation to the surrounding tissue. To understand this crucial step for tumor hematogenous metastasis, we used dissipative particle dynamics method to investigate an individual cell passing through a narrow slit numerically. The cell membrane was simulated by a spring-based network model which can separate the internal cytoplasm and surrounding fluid. The effects of the cell elasticity, cell shape, nucleus and slit size on the cell transmigration through the slit were investigated. Under a fixed driving force, the cell with higher elasticity can be elongated more and pass faster through the slit. When the slit width decreases to 2/3 of the cell diameter, the spherical cell becomes jammed despite reducing its elasticity modulus by 10 times. However, transforming the cell from a spherical to ellipsoidal shape and increasing the cell surface area by merely 9.3 % can enable the cell to pass through the narrow slit. Therefore, the cell shape and surface area increase play a more important role than the cell elasticity in cell passing through the narrow slit. In addition, the simulation results indicate that the cell migration velocity decreases during entrance but increases during exit of the slit, which is qualitatively in agreement with the experimental observation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655-1667
Number of pages13
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • A narrow slit
  • Cell deformability
  • Cell migration
  • Dissipative particle dynamics
  • Surface area increase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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