Theory of Red Blood Cell Oscillations in an Ultrasound Field

Journal title

Archives of Acoustics




No 1

Publication authors


spatio-temporal cell dynamics; Rayleigh-Plesset equation; spherical cell; red blood cell; erythrocyte; sonophore

Divisions of PAS

Nauki Techniczne


Manipulating particles in the blood pool with noninvasive methods has been of great interest in therapeutic delivery. Recently, it was demonstrated experimentally that red blood cells can be forced to translate and accumulate in an ultrasound field. This acoustic response of the red blood cells has been attributed to sonophores, gas pockets that are formed under the influence of a sound field in the inner-membrane leaflets of biological cells. In this paper, we propose a simpler model: that of the compressible membrane. We derive the spatio-temporal cell dynamics for a spherically symmetric single cell, whilst regarding the cell bilayer membrane as two monolayer Newtonian viscous liquids, separated by a thin gas void. When applying the newly-derived equations to a red blood cell, it is observed that the void inside the bilayer expands to multiples of its original thickness, even at clinically safe acoustic pressure amplitudes. For causing permanent cell rupture during expansion, however, the acoustic pressure amplitudes needed would have to surpass the inertial cavitation threshold by a factor 10. Given the incompressibility of the inner monolayer, the radial oscillations of a cell are governed by the same set of equations as those of a forced antibubble. Evidently, these equations must hold for liposomes under sonication, as well.


Committee on Acoustics PAS, PAS Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Polish Acoustical Society


ISSN 0137-5075 ; eISSN 2300-262X