The passage times of individual human neutrophils through single capillary-sized pores in polycarbonate membranes were measured with the resistive pulse technique, and results were compared to those obtained from the micropipette aspiration of entire cells. Pore transit measurement serves as a useful means to screen populations of cells, and allows for protocols that measure time dependent changes to the population. Neutrophils exhibited a highly linear pressure/flow rate relationship at aspiration pressures from 200 Pa to 1,500 Pa in both the pore and pipette systems. Cellular viscosity, as determined by the method of Hochmuth and Needham, was 89.0 Pa·s for the pore systems and 134.9 Pa·s for the pipette systems. These results are in general agreement with recent values of neutrophil viscosity published in the literature. Extrapolation of the observed linear flow response revealed an apparent minimum pressure for whole cell aspiration significantly above the threshold pressure predicted by Evans’ liquid drop model. However, whole cell aspiration was achieved in both the pore and pipette systems at pressures below this extrapolated minimum, although the calculated cellular viscosity was greatly increased. The implications of these two regimes of cell deformation is unclear. This behavior could be explained by shear thinning of the material in the cell body. However the origin of this phenomenon may be in the cortical region of the cell, which exhibits an elastic tension that may be deformation rate dependent.

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