Read here about tensegrity, as it relates to biological blood.


Tensegrity informs the study of blood in two principle ways. In structural anatomy, the role of blood as a structural element in maintaining body shape, such as for example the role of tensegrity in blood vessel structure. In cellular biology, the role of tensegrity in explaining cellular morphology, dynamics and behavior. For example, biomedical engineers applied tensegrity-based models of red blood cells to begin to understand the cells' ability to constantly deform in circulation while preserving their underlying shape. The forces of fluid shear have also been discussed in tensegrity terms.

Skelton proposed a tensegrity structure consisting of roughly 33000 protein hexagons having one rod shaped protein complex each.

Krishna proposed a 24 strut, 112 tendon tensegrity arch structure.

Red Blood Cell Models

3-D Nanomechanics of Red Blood Cells

Collaboration between Bob Skelton and Amy Sung Laboratories.

Blood Cell 1.PNG
Blood Cell 2.PNG
Blood cell mechanical test.PNG

Semi-toroidal Tensegrity Arch And Red Blood Cells

A blood cell is simulated with a 24 strut, 112 tendon tensegrity arch. A final comparison fails due to the method of measuring force deflection in the red blood cells.

In this project, Navaneeth Krishna R. P. formulates an optimization problem to synthesize a tensegrity structure of desired shape and conduct preliminary experiments on micro-pipette aspiration of a red blood cell. A semi-toroidal tensegrity arch is synthesized with 24 bars and 102 cables and a hitherto unknown tensegrity of biconcave shape similar to that of a red blood cell comprising 24 bars and 112 cables. Krishna also presents static analysis of a tensegrity structure by minimizing the potential energy with unilateral constraints on the lengths of the cables, which cannot take compressive loads. He extends the method to synthesize a tensegrity table of desired height and area with three bars and nine cables under a predefined load. Prototypes of all three synthesized tensegrities are made and tested. Preliminary experiments are conducted to obtain static and viscoelastic force deflection responses of red blood cells, so that a tensegrity model can be fit to those responses. For the experiment, the RBCs are isolated from the whole blood.

Red Blood Cell Tensegrity 2013 Thesis

Links and references

Read more about biotensegrity in these pages:

Portal to Cellular Biology
A series on cells and cytoskeletal structure
Biotensegrity, Blood cells, Cells, Biological, Cytoskeleton, DNA, integrins, Mechanobiology
People: Ingber

Portal to Structural Anatomy
A series on the body's musculoskeletal structure
Anatomy:Animals, Bone, Lungs, Pelvis, Spine, Elbow
Concepts: Anatomy Trains, Biotensegrity, Birth, Mechanobiology, Movement Therapy
Tools: Clothing, Prosthetics
People: Earnhardt, Flemons, Guimberteau, Levin, Myers, Scarr