Biomechanics of neutrophil tethers

Andrea Cugno, Alex Marki, Klaus Ley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Leukocytes, including neutrophils, propelled by blood flow, can roll on inflamed endothelium using transient bonds between selectins and their ligands, and integrins and their ligands. When such receptor–ligand bonds last long enough, the leukocyte microvilli become extended and eventually form thin, 20 µm long tethers. Tether formation can be observed in blood vessels in vivo and in microfluidic flow chambers. Tethers can also be extracted using micropipette aspiration, biomembrane force probe, optical trap, or atomic force microscopy approaches. Here, we review the biomechanical properties of leukocyte tethers as gleaned from such measurements and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. We also review and discuss viscoelastic models that describe the dependence of tether formation on time, force, rate of loading, and cell activation. We close by emphasizing the need to combine experimental observations with quantitative models and computer simulations to understand how tether formation is affected by membrane tension, membrane reservoir, and interactions of the membrane with the cytoskeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number515
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell mechanics
  • ENDS formation
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Mechanobiology
  • Nonlinearly decaying springs
  • Tether breakage
  • Tether pulling
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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