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The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 399–412 | Cite as

Theory of myelin coiling

  • J. -R. HuangEmail author
Regular Article

Abstract.

A new model is proposed to explain coiling of myelins composed of fluid bilayers. This model allows the constituent bilayer cylinders of a myelin to be non-coaxial and the bilayer lateral tension to vary from bilayer to bilayer. The calculations show that a myelin would bend or coil to lower its free energy when the bilayer lateral tension is sufficiently large. From a mechanical point of view, the proposed coiling mechanism is analogous to the classical Euler buckling of a thin elastic rod under axial compression. The analysis of a simple two-bilayer case suggests that a bilayer lateral tension of about 1 dyne/cm can easily induce coiling of myelins of typical lipid bilayers. This model signifies the importance of bilayer lateral tension in determining the morphology of myelinic structures.

PACS.

87.16.Dg Membranes, bilayers, and vesicles 82.70.Uv Surfactants, micellar solutions, vesicles, lamellae, amphiphilic systems (hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions) 82.70.-y Disperse systems; complex fluids 

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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Franck Institute and Department of PhysicsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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