European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 335–339 | Cite as

Amphiphile induced echinocyte-spheroechinocyte transformation of red blood cell shape

  • A. Iglič
  • Veronika Kralj-Iglič
  • Henry Hägerstrand


A possible physical explanation of the echinocyte-spheroechinocyte red blood cell (RBC) shape transformation induced by the intercalation of amphiphilic molecules into the outer layer of the RBC plasma membrane bilayer is given. The stable RBC shape is determined by the minimization of the membrane elastic energy, consisting of the bilayer bending energy, the bilayer relative stretching energy and the skeleton shear elastic energy. It is shown that for a given relative cell volume the calculated number of echinocyte spicula increases while their size decreases as the number of the intercalated amphiphilic molecules in the outer layer of the cell membrane bilayer is increased, which is in agreement with experimental observations. Further, it is shown that the equilibrium difference between the outer and the inner membrane leaflet areas of the stable RBC shapes increases if the amount of the intercalated amphiphiles is increased, thereby verifying theoretically the original bilayer couple hypothesis of Sheetz and Singer (1974) and Evans (1974).

Key words Red blood cell Spheroechinocyte Membrane skeleton Cell shape Elastic energy 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Iglič
    • 1
  • Veronika Kralj-Iglič
    • 2
  • Henry Hägerstrand
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Physics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering University of Ljubljana, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia e-mail:
  2. 2.Institute of Biophysics, Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Åbo Akademi University, FIN-20520 Åbo/Turku, FinlandFI

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