Hydrostatic Pressure Effect On Immune System

Meir Shinitzky, Venkatesh Ramakrishna and Andrei Matsaev, Department of Membrane Research, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

In most eukaryotic systems, thermodynamic parameters such as temperature, volume or pressure are kept constant or allowed to modulate in a well-controlled narrow range. Temperature or pressure can be used for induction of preconceived irreversible changes in constitution and structure of biological tissues, like the cell plasma membrane, which could be then applied in an in vivo system (e.g. vaccination). In this respect, pressure is the method of choice, as it does not involve chemical modification and is generally applied under isothermal conditions.

Pressure can operate either as a transient vector (e.g. pressure difference across a membrane) or as an intrinsic scalar (i.e. hydrostatic pressure). Biological processes related to vectorial pressure include gas equilibrium across biological membranes (e.g. oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange in the lung alveoli or cell rupture upon sudden change in pressure) and osmotic regulation of membrane transport. Hydrostatic pressure is an internal thermodynamic factor which is in equilibrium with the ambient atmospheric pressure. A change in the latter by a magnitude of AP is reflected in a change in the internal energy of the system by AP-AV, where AV is the overall change in volume. When a heterogeneous system, such as a biological tissue, is subjected to external hydrostatic pressure, only the compressible elements, i.e. those where AV is significant, will comply with pressure. Compartments with low compressibility (AV ~0) will remain practically unaffected.

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