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First Thermal and Fluids Engineering Summer Conference

ISSN: 2379-1748


Erick S. Vasquez
Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, Mississippi State University, MS 39762, USA

Elizabeth S. Duggan
Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary/Critical Care, Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA

Jordan Patrick Metcalf
Pulmonary and Critical Care Division of the Department of Medicine and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Santanu Kundu
Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, Mississippi State University, MS 39759, USA

Keisha Walters
University of Oklahoma

DOI: 10.1615/
pages 2131-2134

KEY WORDS: mucus, large amplitude oscillatory shear (LAOS), peakforce quantitative nanomechanical mapping (QNM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), mucin


Mucus is a heterogeneous and complex gel-like material present in many organ systems, such as the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and reproductive tracts. Mucus acts a barrier against bacteria, viruses, toxins, and foreign particles; thus, it is important to understand the mechanical and microstructural properties of this complex biofluid. The relationships between composition, physical characteristics, mechanical properties, microstructure-including the size, assembly and crosslinking interactions of polymeric mucin chains-and the physiological functions of mucus are not well understood. In this study, the nanomechanical and viscoelastic properties of mammalian lung mucus were measured using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and steady shear and small- and large-strain oscillatory shear flows. Mammalian lung mucus showed complex fluid behaviors including non-linear viscoelastic responses. Using large amplitude oscillatory shear (LAOS) rheological experiments, strain-stiffening was observed at low strain values and at large strain values the mucus exhibited strain-softening behavior. Nanomechanical properties, including Young's modulus, stiffness, and force-displacement curves, were measured using Peak Force Quantitative Nanomechanical Mapping in-situ under an aqueous environment. This is related to the observed aggregation and conformational changes of mucin-at both the micro- and nano-scale. As rheological and mechanical properties of lung mucus reported are linked to high-strain rate physiological processes, such as coughing, understanding how these properties change with disease and/or the introduction of foreign bodies is key to guiding new therapeutics and regulating respired particulates.

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