Linear viscoelastic properties of the vertex model for epithelial tissues

Sijie Tong, Navreeta K. Singh, Rastko Sknepnek, Andrej Košmrlj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Epithelial tissues act as barriers and, therefore, must repair themselves, respond to environmental changes and grow without compromising their integrity. Consequently, they exhibit complex viscoelastic rheological behavior where constituent cells actively tune their mechanical properties to change the overall response of the tissue, e.g., from solid-like to fluid-like. Mesoscopic mechanical properties of epithelia are commonly modeled with the vertex model. While previous studies have predominantly focused on the rheological properties of the vertex model at long time scales, we systematically studied the full dynamic range by applying small oscillatory shear and bulk deformations in both solid-like and fluid-like phases for regular hexagonal and disordered cell configurations. We found that the shear and bulk responses in the fluid and solid phases can be described by standard spring-dashpot viscoelastic models. Furthermore, the solid-fluid transition can be tuned by applying pre-deformation to the system. Our study provides insights into the mechanisms by which epithelia can regulate their rich rheological behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1010135
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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