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Discontinuous Shear Thickening in Biological Tissue Rheology

Hertaeg, Michael J.; Fielding, Suzanne M.; Bi, Dapeng

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Dapeng Bi


During embryonic morphogenesis, tissues undergo dramatic deformations in order to form functional organs. Similarly, in adult animals, living cells and tissues are continually subjected to forces and deformations. Therefore, the success of embryonic development and the proper maintenance of physiological functions rely on the ability of cells to withstand mechanical stresses as well as their ability to flow in a collective manner. During these events, mechanical perturbations can originate from active processes at the single-cell level, competing with external stresses exerted by surrounding tissues and organs. However, the study of tissue mechanics has been somewhat limited to either the response to external forces or to intrinsic ones. In this work, we use an active vertex model of a 2D confluent tissue to study the interplay of external deformations that are applied globally to a tissue with internal active stresses that arise locally at the cellular level due to cell motility. We elucidate, in particular, the way in which this interplay between globally external and locally internal active driving determines the emergent mechanical properties of the tissue as a whole. For a tissue in the vicinity of a solid-fluid jamming or unjamming transition, we uncover a host of fascinating rheological phenomena, including yielding, shear thinning, continuous shear thickening, and discontinuous shear thickening. These model predictions provide a framework for understanding the recently observed nonlinear rheological behaviors in vivo.


Hertaeg, M. J., Fielding, S. M., & Bi, D. (2024). Discontinuous Shear Thickening in Biological Tissue Rheology. Physical Review X, 14(1), Article 011027.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2024
Online Publication Date Feb 22, 2024
Publication Date 2024-01
Deposit Date Mar 28, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 28, 2024
Journal Physical Review X
Publisher American Physical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 011027
Public URL


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