The adhesion of cells to substrates is a critical step in plenty of biological events. The effects of cell deformation on the adhesion process have been investigated using a direct fluid dynamics simulation based on front-tracking method. A model including membrane elasticity and stochastic receptor-ligand binding has been developed. The study reveals a surprising effect of cell deformation. An asymmetry in upstream-downstream flow field due to cell deformation results in a hydrodynamic lift. The lift force counterbalances the shear torque and causes reduced contact area and reduced number of bond formed, and leads to cell detachment at relatively low shear rate. The finding of lift could be used to partially explain the shear threshold phenomenon occurring at small shear stresses.

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