Particle-induced indentation of the alveolar epithelium caused by surface tension forces

S. M. Mijailovich, M. Kojic, A. Tsuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Physical contact between an inhaled particle and alveolar epithelium at the moment of particle deposition must have substantial effects on subsequent cellular functions of neighboring cells, such as alveolar type-I, type-II pneumocytes, alveolar macrophage, as well as afferent sensory nerve cells, extending their dendrites toward the alveolar septal surface. The forces driving this physical insult are born at the surface of the alveolar air-liquid layer. The role of alveolar surfactant submerging a hydrophilic particle has been suggested by Gehr and Schürch's group (e.g., Respir Physiol 80: 17-32, 1990). In this paper, we extended their studies by developing a further comprehensive and mechanistic analysis. The analysis reveals that the mechanics operating in the particle-tissue interaction phenomena can be explained on the basis of a balance between surface tension force and tissue resistance force; the former tend to move a particle toward alveolar epithelial cell surface, the latter to resist the cell deformation. As a result, the submerged particle deforms the tissue and makes a noticeable indentation, which creates unphysiological stress and strain fields in tissue around the particle. This particle-induced microdeformation could likely trigger adverse mechanotransduction and mechanosensing pathways, as well as potentially enhancing particle uptake by the cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1194
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Aerosols
  • Contact angle
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Three-phase interfacial lines
  • Ultra fine particles
  • Zisman's plot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Particle-induced indentation of the alveolar epithelium caused by surface tension forces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this