European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 101–111 | Cite as

Membrane bending energy and shape determination of phospholipid vesicles and red blood cells

  • S. Svetina
  • B. Žekš


A procedure is developed to calculate red blood cell and phospholipid vesicle shapes within the bilayer couple model of the membrane. The membrane is assumed to consist of two laterally incompressible leaflets which are in close contact but unconnected. Shapes are determined by minimizing the membrane bending energy at a given volume of a cell (V), given average membrane area (A) and given difference of the areas of two leaflets (ΔA). Different classes of shapes exist in parts of the va phase diagram, where v and Δa are the volume and the leaflet area difference relative to the sphere with area A. The limiting shapes are composed of sections of spheres with only two values allowed for their radii. Two low energy axisymmetrical classes, which include discocyte and stomatocyte shapes are studied and their phase diagrams are analyzed. For v=0.6, the discocyte is the lowest energy shape, which transforms by decreasing Δa continuously into a stomatocyte. The spontaneous membrane curvature (C0) and compressibility of membrane leaflest can be incorporated into the model.

A model, where ΔA is free and C0 determines the shapes at given V and A, is also studied. In this case, by decreasing C0, a discocyte transforms discontinuously into an almost closed stomatocyte.

Key words

Phospholipid membrane red blood cell shapes membrane bending energy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Svetina
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. Žekš
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Medical FacultyInstitute of BiophysicsLjubljanaYugoslavia
  2. 2.J. Stefan InstituteE. Kardelj University of LjubljanaLjubljanaYugoslavia

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