Chemo-mechanical model of a cell as a stochastic active gel

V. Deshpande, A. DeSimone, R. McMeeking, P. Recho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


While it is commonly observed that the shape dynamics of mammalian cells can undergo large random fluctuations, theoretical models aiming at capturing cell mechanics often focus on the deterministic part of the motion. In this paper, we present a framework that couples an active gel model of the cell mechanical scaffold with the complex cell metabolic system stochastically delivering the chemical energy needed to sustain an active stress in the scaffold. Our closure assumption setting the magnitude of the fluctuations is that the chemo-mechanical free energy of the cell is controlled at a target homeostatic value. Our model rationalizes the experimental observation that the cell shape fluctuations depend on the mechanical environment that constraints the cell. We apply our framework to the simple case of a cell migrating on a one dimensional track to successfully capture the different regimes of the cell mean square displacement along the track as well as the magnitude of the long time scale effective diffusive motion of the cell.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104381
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Active gel
  • Cell motility
  • Homeostasis
  • Metabolism
  • Stochastic fluctuations


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