Skin has generated considerable interest among researchers for their elastic properties. The properties are attributed largely to the presence of tensions in cells. Cytoskeletal filaments, the key constituent of all cells across all organisms, are what are responsible for causing and resisting tension and also give the cells their shape. It has been known for years that cells exhibit small deformations when impacted by force, and returns to the original shape after the cause has been removed. However, the phenomenon behind superelastic properties that the skin displays at times have been scarcely observed or studied. The key to understanding this is studying the nature of active superelastic materials– epithelial sheets. A team of international researchers found in a recent study that epithelial sheets exhibit superelasticity owing to the interplay of the stress in actin cortex and the filament network.
The details of the study are published in a paper published in Nature on October 31, 2018.
Cells can exhibit Superelastic Mechanical Property under Some Conditions
The tension in various organs in organisms is due to the tension in cells, attributed to the complex network of cytoskeleton. The filaments when present in actin endow shape to the cells and are responsible for the force generated by adhesion points across the skin, which results in tension. In previous studies, it was found that large-scale deformations in skin caused permanent damage. However, in the current study the researchers found evidence of the superelastic mechanical properties of cells, which enable them to stretch beyond normal levels and without showing tension. The study used a new method to study the elasticity of the skin which help them analyze single layers of epithelial cells.