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Journal Articles Biophysical Journal Year : 1999

The Osmotic Migration of Cells in a Solute Gradient


The effect of a nonuniform solute concentration on the osmotic transport of water through the boundaries of a simple model cell is investigated. A system of two ordinary differential equations is derived for the motion of a single cell in the limit of a fast solute diffusion, and an analytic solution is obtained for one special case. A two-dimensional finite element model has been developed to simulate the more general case (finite diffusion rates, solute gradient induced by a solidification front). It is shown that the cell moves to regions of lower solute concentration due to the uneven flux of water through the cell boundaries. This mechanism has apparently not been discussed previously. The magnitude of this effect is small for red blood cells, the case in which all of the relevant parameters are known. We show, however, that it increases with cell size and membrane permeability, so this effect could be important for larger cells. The finite element model presented should also have other applications in the study of the response of cells to an osmotic stress and for the interaction of cells and solidification fronts. Such investigations are of major relevance for the optimization of cryopreservation processes.

Dates and versions

hal-01282080 , version 1 (03-03-2016)



Marc Jaeger, Muriel Carin, Marc Medale, Gretar Tryggvason. The Osmotic Migration of Cells in a Solute Gradient. Biophysical Journal, 1999, 77 (3), ⟨10.1016/S0006-3495(99)76977-8⟩. ⟨hal-01282080⟩
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